By Bob Balgemann


Continued legislative wrangling at the state level has put construction of the Alpine Road path in danger of not being done this year.

That means another group of Harlem High School students will face walking home along the Alpine Road right of way for another winter.

Machesney Park Village Engineer Chris Dopkins gave an update on the project to the village board at its June 20 meeting. While doing so, he encouraged people to contact their state legislators about how the budget impasse is impacting the community they serve.

The project could still happen if a stopgap measure of some kind is approved in the near future.

“We’ve been there before,” he said of gridlock in Springfield creating a negative effect on municipalities around the state. “But we don’t know the full impact on us right now.”

Village officials continue to hope this work will be done by mid-August, before the return of school for the 2016 -2017 term.

But for the moment, the state has put a stop on the Alpine path and other projects for which bids were submitted on June 10. N-Trak Group submitted the low bid for the Alpine path, Dopkins said, which was $80,000 under the engineering estimate.

Contractors have to hold their prices for 45 days, he said. After that, “the scope is wide open,” he added.

If state projects are shut down, he said contractors would be scrambling for work. “That’s a good thing and a bad thing,” he said. “Good for now and possibly bad for later.”

The new pathway will be constructed along the west side of Alpine Road from Lowe’s to Schnuck’s. It is an $840,000 project that was helped greatly by a $620,432 grant through the federal Transportation Alternatives Program.

Once completed, the path will tie the Rock River with Rock Cut State Park. A walkway already exists from the river, down Roosevelt Road, through a wooded area of Machesney Park and on to the state property.

The only missing piece is from Roosevelt Road to the entrance to Harlem High School.

On a more positive note the engineer reported that the widening of Illinois 173 from Route 251 to the entrance to Rock Cut State Park is just about finished.

Work started in 2012, took the summer off in 2013, then picked up again in 2014 and 2015. Now a punch list is being worked on, along with synchronizing traffic lights from Mitchell Road on the east to Smythe Road to the west.

That means motorists should get continuous green lights during that stretch, as long as they’re going at or near the speed limit.

In addition, bids for the village’s 2016 pavement maintenance program are scheduled to be awarded at the July 5 board meeting. And work on the Drexel-Kingsley improvements should begin right after the 4th of July.

Also during the board’s June 20 meeting Sheriff’s Sgt. Doug Bushman reported that from June 3 to 16, deputies responded to 892 calls for service in the village, wrote 294 reports and made 186 arrests.

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