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By L. Nicole Trottie
Three things come to mind when most people think of Maywood, and unfortunately none of them are positive: wasted time, wasted money and wasted opportunity. Regrettably, you can’t recover the time or money that has been lost due to the inability of village officials to get things done. Their failure to capitalize on countless opportunities only benefits surrounding municipalities. While other towns move two steps forward Maywood moves two steps backward.
Over the years, I have been given numerous examples of how businesses either leave town or refuse to move in because those running village hall are either “clueless, unqualified, or not motivated to do their jobs.” Drive around Maywood today and you can’t help but notice how things have only gotten worse. Abandoned houses and store fronts line block after block. Driving down the street you swerve to avoid potholes every few feet. Where do all the tax dollars go? With some of the highest property taxes in the country, you would hope the village could resurface its streets. “Where do all the dollars go?” is a question residents have been asking for years. But for the Maywood Park District and Executive Director, Antonette Dorris’ to see through the 809 building renovations, resources certainly haven’t gone toward any sustainable projects. Which brings me to the point of this piece.
Recently we ran a story on the potential for two grade separations in town. Grade separation is a fancy term for either a bridge or tunnel. I know most of you have heard by now the bridge on 25th opened this past December. Melrose Park and Bellwood got their “grade separation.” Many Maywood residents are wondering, “Where is our bridge or where is our development?” I know this first hand. Several Maywood residents have called, walked into the WSJ office located on Roosevelt Rd., and responded positively to the WSJ Online survey. The common sentiment from readers and residents rings true: We could benefit from a bridge. Like a CD with a deep scratch, the predominant theme repeated over and over and over by residents and from neighboring villages like Forest Park is mounting frustration with the village of Maywood officials’ inept leadership.
The common thread is that 1st Avenue has the same issues that 25th Avenue had, and with Loyola Hospital down the street, one could argue that train delays are a life and death issue at 1st Avenue. So, when I heard that Maywood is on the list for 2 grade separations, I was hopeful that these projects would be the spark that would ignite a brighter future for the town.
5th Ave (north of St. Charles Rd) current traffic studies account for 52 freight trains and 58 Metra trains daily. The scope of the 5th Avenue proposed grade separation will consider eliminating the at-grade crossing of 5th Ave and two Union Pacific Tracks on which Metra also operates commuter service. Daily, 8,600 vehicles and 66 Pace buses (No. 331) pass through this crossing
By creating the new grade separation, roadway congestion and safety at this location will greatly improve. The grade crossing will eliminate delay to nearly 1,200 vehicles daily, and result in the alleviation of over 7,200 annual motorist hours of delay. It will also eliminate the potential for collisions between vehicles and trains, according to Union Pacific.
The scope of work for First Avenue (north of Oak Street, south of Main Street, just west of the Des Plaines River) will consider eliminating the at-grade crossing at 1st Avenue by two Union Pacific tracks. This will be accomplished by creating an overpass or underpass for vehicles.
Currently 52 freight trains and 58 Metra trains daily cross the proposed grade separation 1st Avenue location. Daily, 26,800 vehicles pass through the crossing. The new grade separation will reduce roadway congestion, and eliminate delay to over 3,700 vehicles daily, resulting in the alleviation of nearly 22,500 annual motorist hours of delay.
The West Cook Railroad Relocation and Development Authority was created in Springfield to oversee the 25th Avenue, 1st Avenue, and 5th Avenue grade crossings. With the opening of the 25TH Avenue Bridge, the Authority’s focus now turns to the Maywood grade separations, which means the mayor and her administration have to do something. I know for many of you, after so many false hopes, that means it will never get done. Others hope that it will get done despite Maywood’s officials. We ran a recent survey asking our readers to tell us if they are in favor of a bridge at 1st Avenue, and the response was a unanimous YES.
For this long overdue project to begin, Maywood’s mayor and trustees need to unite behind it – and so do residents. Village officials need to put aside their differences and do the right thing for residents because Maywood can’t afford to waste any more time, money or opportunity. Representatives from the Authority are waiting for your call, Maywood.
I encourage residents, businesses, and surrounding villages to help the WSJ help you. Visit WSJ Online, educate yourselves on the grade separation project, read the online article, then complete the survey following the article. It’s that simple! Type in the link (online: copy and paste) to go directly to the story, Neighboring village pitch to Maywood: ‘build bridge’ at: https://westsuburbanjournal.com/neighboring-village-pitch-to-maywood-build-bridge/
The West Suburban Journal last week reached out to the village of Bellwood to participate in a Journal Town Hall Meeting. The purpose of the meeting is to hear resident input and feedback, and to answer your questions. Bellwood officials have accepted our offer to participate. The Journal will reach out to the Village of Maywood officials for inclusion and participation.
Residents can look to see a date for the Town Hall in the weeks to come. In addition, we ask local businesses to submit letters, on company letter head, of support to: West Suburban Journal 10055 W. Roosevelt Rd, Suite B, Westchester, IL 60154.
Based on the interest and survey responses, I believe this issue is of great importance to residents and businesses located in and surrounding Maywood. In my 13-years as publisher of the local Maywood newspaper, spanning 5 or 6 different administrations, and an unprecedent number of village manager turnover, I’ve gleaned quite a bit. And what’s most striking are the residents. When I think of the residents of Maywood three things come to mind: Resilient, determined and hopeful!
So I’m saying to residents: Let’s not let the window of opportunity close, as we have so many times before. You don’t have to be an elected official, village insider or employee to create change.
Let’s go to work!