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Hinsdale residents like design plan for new Oak Street Bridge

An illustration of the design of the new Oak Street Bridge, expected to be built in 2015.| Hitchcock Design Group  Feb. 7, 2014
This illustration of the design of the new Oak Street Bridge, with Adventist Hinsdale Hospital at the top, was shown Feb. 6  to the community working group for the bridge project. | Hitchcock Design Group  Feb. 7, 2014
Hinsdale resident Lois Mejdrich discusses the design of the new Oak Street Bridge with consultants from Hitchcock Design Group at a community working group meeting. | Kimberly Fornek/Sun-Times Media Feb. 6, 2014
Hinsdale Village Trustee Laura LaPlaca (from left), Tim King, a principal of Hitchcock Design Group, and resident Lois Mejdrich look at illustrations of the new Oak Street Bridge. | Kimberly Fornek/Sun-Times Media

Members of the community working group for the Oak Street Bridge replacement project had a favorable reaction to the most recent design.

The consultants updated the project based on earlier comments from the public.

“They’re spending a lot of time and money so it will work from an aesthetic and a functional standpoint,” said Glenn Bjorkman, who has lived in the village since 1941.

He remembers driving over the bridge in the 1950s, when it was still two-way. He said a return to two lanes will provide better traffic flow.

The traffic impact of the new design will be discussed at future meetings. The meeting Feb. 6 in the lodge at Katherine Legge Memorial Park focused on the landscaping and architecture of the project.

The Hitchcock Design Group mimicked architectural elements from the Highland train station east of the bridge, such as the railing, stonework and decorative columns, in the new bridge.

There will be sidewalks on both sides of the bridge, and a retaining wall on the east side, adjacent to Highland Park.

“It’s really nice,” said Lois Mejdrich, whose home on Highland backs up to the railroad.

The plan is to preserve as many trees as possible and plant new ones, said Tim King, a landscape architect with Hitchcock Design Group.

Lights were not shown in the design, because they are not included in the funding for the bridge, Village Trustee Laura LaPlaca said. Federal and state grants are paying for the multimillion dollar project. If the lights would be purely decorative, the village would have to pay for them.

“I think lighting is going to be an important feature,” LaPlaca said.

Under the bridge, the ground slopes down to the railroad tracks. Some of the residents had concerns that children might play there or other people hang out in the space, which would be covered by the bridge overhead.

But Robert Davies, a project engineer with the engineering firm, HR Green Inc., said the slope is steep and difficult to walk on.

“The wall is all slope, with no flat (ledge) on top. It’s quite a bit of work to walk up and down those,” said Davies, adding he has had to do it himself.

Village Engineer Dan Deeter said the present situation allows people to loiter under the bridge, but that has not happened.

“Right now there is no fence out there. Everyone has access,” Deeter said. “I’ve been down there . . . and there are places to loiter.”

Village officials will consider whether more security measures should be added to the project.

The design team will submit plans to the Illinois Commerce Commission in June. They expect to send the final plans to the Illinois Department of Transportation in December. If approved, the project will be put out to bid and the contract awarded in March 2015, HR Green officials said.

Construction is expected to start in May 2015 and be substantially completed by the end of 2015.

Bjorkman questioned whether an eight-month construction period is realistic and Davies said he thinks it is, although the landscaping probably will not be planted until the following spring.

The consultants have not decided where the project will be staged. One spot under consideration is the northeast corner of Oak Street and the railroad.

LaPlaca realizes railroad enthusiasts and some residents may want a piece of the old bridge for historic or nostalgic reasons. As the bridge is taken apart, pieces will be set aside for collectors, in an informal manner.

“We can work out making that happen,” LaPlaca said.

Public comments on the plan may be made to the village at 630-789-7030, or to the design team at 815-385-1778 or oakstreetbridge@hrgreen.com. The design will be posted on the village website, at www.villageofhinsdale.org.

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