Champaign to start Green Street reconstruction in 2016

Champaign is planning a complete reconstruction to the section of Green Street between Fourth and Neil streets in 2016. 

To present a brief overview of the third phase of the Green Street Streetscape Project, the city held an open house at Venue 51, 51 E. Green St. Thursday night. 

The project will be designed by a team led by Clark Dietz Inc., a multi-disciplined consulting engineering firm. 

The reconstruction will feature wider sidewalks, improved traffic design, safer pedestrian crossings, new street trees, improved lighting, improvements to the railroad viaduct and an overall improved aesthetic.

“The first thing is really to create a dynamic and exciting streetscape and environment,” said Ernest Wong, principal in charge at Site Design Group. “We thought that is very important, beside our first priority, which is to make it a safe environment.”

The project is expected to cost $8 million and is being funded by a combination of City Food and Beverage funds and a federal TIGER grant. 

The city’s goals are to enhance and beautify the Green Street corridor, promote economic development and increase connectivity within campus town and to city districts.

“We need to accommodate, we need to have multi mobile transportation, (Green Street) needs to be attractive, it needs to be the gateway from the Champaign side to campus,” said Champaign Mayor Don Gerard.

During the Dietz presentation at Thursday’s Open House, it was pointed out that out of 101 total reported accidents during the span of 2009 to 2013, 69 percent of accidents resulted in property damage only. The project hopes to decrease that number. 

“Of those accidents, approximately half of them have occurred in First and Green Street intersection,” said Sean Widener, Clark Dietz Project Manager.

Rashod Johnson, president of the Roderick Group and University alumnus, described Green Street as “the Michigan Avenue of Champaign.” He said the development of Green Street is vital for the city, as well as the community.

Johnson explained the hierarchy of importance in terms of safety on the streets of Champaign with pedestrians being on top, then cyclists, followed by public transportation and lastly, automobiles. 

“When I was here, everybody drove down Green Street, but now I don’t drive down Green Street,” Johnson said. “I think that’s the plan, the plan is for Green Street to become more foot traffic, more toward cycle traffic and a little away from the vehicle traffic,” 

Final design of the project is expected to be complete by the end of the year and construction is expected to begin in 2016.

The construction process may cause inconveniences, but Gerard believes the end result will be worth it for those who use Green Street.

“The city and campus will work to accommodate,” he said “It’s going to be some sacrifice and some inconvenient but on the other hand, it will be tremendous when the project is finished,” Gerard said.

Edwin can be reached at eehsieh2@dailyillini.com.