ONU  traffic

Traffic on U.S. Route 45/52 and Illinois Route 102 near Olivet Nazarene University where Bourbonnais officials would like to build a pedestrian bridge.

BOURBONNAIS — Village officials have looked into building a walking bridge for years at U.S. Route 45/52 near Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais.

Village trustees plan to renew those efforts on Monday by selecting an engineering firm to create plans with the intention of securing grant funding from the state.

"We need to have the engineering and architectural work done so they can pursue grant funding," Bourbonnais Mayor Paul Schore said. "We have to have grant funding for this project. We can't do it with just a local share. We may add participation, but we need transportation funding to make that happen."

The village's community and economic development committee interviewed three firms during its Nov. 9 meeting, giving each firm an hour to make its pitch. Those firms were the Carlile Group, of Kankakee; Fehr Graham Engineering & Environmental, of Champaign; and BLD Architects, of Chicago.

"We're making sure all our ducks are in a row so we can give ourselves an opportunity to get grant funding," said Trustee Jeff Keast, who chairs the community and economic development committee. "We're talking about safety and gateways into our community. It's exciting."

Schore said the bridge project would have cost an estimated $3 million years ago. Now, that total is closer to $4 million when factoring handicap accessibility, lighting and possible elevators.

The purpose of the bridge ultimately is to improve pedestrian safety and reduce traffic congestion.

"It's really two-fold," Schore said. "It's a safety situation. Pedestrians have to cross five lanes of traffic. We also want to alleviate the traffic problems that occur when school lets out."

The village in recent years has made a push to become more walkable and bicycle-friendly. Last month, it once again agreed to apply for federal transportation funding to develop a 2.8-mile bike path from Bethel Drive to Diamond Point Park.