By Bob Uphues
The intersection improvements at First Avenue and Forest Avenue/Ridgewood Road in Riverside are largely complete, officials announced Tuesday, and all crosswalks and walkways at the intersection have returned to normal operation.
Initially, officials were under the impression that it would take the Illinois Department of Transportation well into 2015 to complete the improvements, which include new right turn-only lanes on both westbound Forest Avenue and southbound First Avenue.
IDOT plans to apply a final layer of asphalt and roadway striping to the street the week of Nov. 24, though poor weather could delay those plans.
While some concrete still needs to be poured at the intersection, pedestrians are able to use both the north and south sides of the street to cross First Avenue. Two crossing guards will remain at the intersection both before and after school until at least the end of 2014 to assist students across the state highway.
The plan is for new street lights, traffic signals and countdown signals to be installed at the intersection by Dec. 25, said Riverside Police Chief Thomas Weitzel. Until those signals and lights are operational, police will keep two crossing guards at the intersection, one each on the north and side sides.
Because an unrelated water main project has also wrapped up east of the First Avenue intersection, at Groveland and Forest avenues, the north sidewalk west of the Forest Avenue bridge once again is open to all pedestrian traffic.
Construction also has begun on an eight-foot wide bike/pedestrian path that will run along the west side of First Avenue from Parkview Road to 31st Street. By Tuesday morning asphalt had been laid to about halfway between Ridgewood Road and 31st Street.