Aurora moving closer to remake of Broadway downtown

Aurora moving closer to remake of Broadway downtown

Aurora is moving closer to a major remake of the face of downtown.

City officials are looking at plans for the new Broadway streetscape, the main drag through downtown.

Jason Bauer, Public Works assistant director, said this week the city could be ready to move forward with the project by the spring of 2025.

He told members of the City Council’s Infrastructure and Technology Committee that the city and the Illinois Department of Transportation have “been going back and forth” on designs for the remake of Broadway between Benton and New York streets.

“We’ve finally come to agreement with the metrics,” he said.

Broadway is also state Route 25, which is why IDOT must approve any design changes.

Aldermen on the Infrastructure and Technology Committee this week recommended a change order with HR Green to engineer the Broadway project. The change order is one the city already has with HR Green to engineer the change of Galena Boulevard and New York from one-way streets through downtown to two-way.

Public Works officials decided the two projects should be connected.

“We’ve expanded the Broadway streetscape project,” Bauer said.

Plans for the streetscape include removing all the sidewalks and replacing them by refiguring the street. On-street parking would be removed and the sidewalks expanded. They would include plantings and highlights at the intersections.

The roadway would remain two lanes in each direction, but with no parking and larger sidewalks, it would be safer, officials said.

The city received a $3 million grant for the Broadway project from the Rebuild Illinois Downtowns and Main Streets Capital Program that was designed to support commercial corridors that saw a slump during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some 50 commercial corridors and main streets across the state got money to put toward a makeover, part of more than $200 million in state and federal grants across Illinois.

The state originally allocated $50 million to the program in 2021, but because of a large number of applications, and eligible projects, state officials increased the funding.

Aurora has been moving toward redesign of the Broadway streetscape, and doing the underlying work necessary, since getting the grant in 2022.

Officials have been filling in all the remaining underground vaults under the sidewalks, and have initiated a downtown parking study earlier this year to look at how to replace parking lost on Broadway.

As it stands now, Bauer said about 20 parking spots would be lost along Broadway, but with additional parking lots, there would be a net gain in parking spots in the area.

In addition to recommending the change order to the HR Green contract, Infrastructure and Technology Committee members also this week recommended a $1.09 million contract for a sewer separation project along Broadway.

That project would be one of the last below-ground projects before work on the streetscape could begin, officials said.