Goodwin Avenue construction to aid pedestrians, bikers; improve traffic

As summer hits its stride, work is starting on a variety of road construction projects in Champaign-Urbana. On campus, the most major project is a reconstruction of Goodwin Avenue between Gregory Drive and Springfield Avenue in Urbana.

Construction will begin on June 15 and should be complete by Thanksgiving, said Jennifer Selby, a civil engineer for the city of Urbana. AT&T; is currently relocating utility lines along the street in preparation for the project, she said.

The street will be resurfaced and new bike lanes and pedestrian crossways will be added, Selby said. The curb-to-curb width of Goodwin Avenue will not increase, necessitating the narrowing of traffic lanes.

“The project is meant to slow traffic down on the street and improve things for pedestrians and bikers,” Selby said.

One side of the street will be open for pedestrians throughout the project, Selby said. Construction will start on the east side of the street, working its way north towards Springfield Avenue, and then will come south along the west side, she said.

Workers are also trying to keep disruption to vehicular traffic to a minimum, Selby said.

“Vehicular traffic lanes will be open … although it may be down to one lane at times, or parking spots will be cut down,” she said.

Two intersections will be closed for part of the summer, however. The intersection of Goodwin Avenue and Illinois Street will be closed for sewer work, while the intersection at Green Street will be closed to install new traffic signals, Selby said. This work is being done during the summer months to minimize disruption to the public and students, she said.

Lighting along the street will also be replaced. Although planners originally looked into light emitting diodes (LEDs) for the new lamps, more conventional lights will be used.

“We looked into LED lighting, but the technology isn’t quite there yet for roadway lighting,” Selby said.

The project is being funded jointly by Urbana, the state, and the University, Selby said.

Construction is anticipated to cost $1.9 million, with approximately $600,000 going towards project design and street lighting, Selby said. The state is contributing $900,000 for the project, while President Obama’s stimulus package is providing another $400,000. Urbana and the University are splitting the remaining cost, she said.

Although construction may be a nuisance, both workers and students are hoping the project goes as smoothy as possible.

“I don’t think it will be a huge problem,” said Sean Softcheck, senior in LAS. “People can still use the sidewalk or ride their bikes in the street.”

Cooperation from the public will be critical to making the project a success, especially when students return for class in the fall, Selby said.

“We measured pedestrian traffic at the intersection of Goodwin and Illinois and 4,700 pedestrians came through in six hours,” she said. “It’s critical that people obey signage, pay attention and don’t walk into any barrels or tape … it will be a great project when it is done.”