City council approves Curtis Road plan

By Beth Gilomen

Smooth pavement and wider lanes will replace the oil and chip coating on Curtis Road beginning in spring 2009 at the latest. The Champaign City Council approved a plan for improvements to the 140-year-old road at its meeting Tuesday night.

Rick Marley, assistant city engineer for transportation and the project manager for the Curtis Road project, said the improvements have been “a long, long time in the making.”

The first council action concerning the renovation project was passed in October 1978. Since then, several steps have been taken. Most recently, the city began general road construction in March.

The plan passed on Tuesday allows the city to begin negotiating and finalizing real estate purchases necessary to make headway on the project.

In total, the land purchases will cost about $947,000. Savoy will be responsible for about one-fourth of the amount, Champaign County will cover half, and the city of Champaign will pay the remaining amount.

U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson, R-Ill., has secured about $5 million through federal funding. These earmarked funds must be accessed by 2009 or they will be lost, so the deadline to begin the construction process is spring of that year, Marley said.

The total cost of the project to the city of Champaign will be approximately $2.4 million.

The council also passed a resolution designating Fremont Street as Honorary Tate Way. The area between Main Street and Washington Street will now serve as recognition of the News-Gazette’s sports editor, Loren Tate.

Tate has been with the News-Gazette since 1966 and has received several honors in the community, including the University’s honorary Varsity “I” award.