Downer Place Bridge Construction COMPLETED!
The two bridges spanning Downer Place in downtown Aurora officially opened on Dec. 12 after a 10 month rebuilding project.
The $7.83 million project was 80% federally funded. The City also received a $500,000 grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to help offset the City’s share. The rebuild was finished on time and within budget.
Crews were able to complete the project in one construction season--- the only major bridge rebuild in Aurora history in such a short amount of time. The aggressive construction schedule reduced by several months the inconvenience to downtown businesses, patrons, and the community than would have been experienced in the past.
The original bridges were built at the turn of the 20th century, and were torn down after being deemed structurally deficient and exceeding their useful life by the Illinois Department of Transportation.
The rebuilding of the bridges was the cornerstone of a sustainability and beautification project for the major downtown thoroughfare.
The Downer Place streetscape project will enhance the vitality of the downtown and reduce pollutants entering the Fox River. It consists of the removal and replacement of the sidewalk and curb and gutter on both sides of Downer between the bridges. Brick crosswalks have also been added. Rain gardens are being installed on the two south side corners of the Downer Place and Stolp Avenue intersection which will remove pollutants from storm water by filtering the runoff through native plantings and engineered soils prior to finding its way into the Fox River.
The project is being paid for in part with a $70,000 green infrastructure grant from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. It is slated to be completed this spring.
The opening of the bridges signaled the much anticipated traffic pattern changes in the downtown. Both Downer Place and Benton Street, which served as the detour route throughout the construction project, permanently became two-way thoroughfares between Broadway Avenue (Route 25) and Lake Street (Route 31).
The changes also prompted the installation of traffic signal equipment at multiple intersections along Downer and Benton and four-way stop signs at the intersection of Downer and Stolp.
As part of scheduled changes involving downtown parking that will be implemented this year, parking meters along Benton and Downer between Broadway and Lake, have been removed.
To celebrate the opening of the bridges, Aurora held the “First Blast on the Bridge” ceremony on Dec. 12.