Phase two of Western Avenue revitalization will include signage, safety enhancements

Published: Jan. 13, 2022 at 6:49 PM CST
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PEORIA (Heart of Illinois ABC) - The orange construction signs that filled Western Avenue for most of 2021 are now gone, but the city of Peoria is far from done with their $12 million project.

The city received an additional $1.2 million in federal grant money for the construction, which wrapped up stage one at the end of the year between Howett and Malone.

“This makes sure that we have plenty of funding to finish the project,” Community Development Director Joe Dulin said.

The federal funding is administered through the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s Rebuild Distressed Communities program. Money is going to several corridors in need of service across the state, as well as some directly to businesses.

State Senator Dave Koehler was involved in the process.

“I think it’s going to make a big difference just to the pride of the area,” Koehler said. “[It will] hopefully uplift and build up the south side.”

Some of the improvements from phase one are already visible. They’ve turned four lanes into three for better traffic flow as well as adding new street lighting and sidewalks. Construction will move south this spring, between Malone and Adams.

“Stage two, it’s the same project. It’s just a different piece,” city engineer Andrea Klopfenstein. “So the same type of improvements that were completed on stage one will happen in stage two.”

Meanwhile, local business owners say those changes are a welcome sight. Pastor Chuck Brown is building a supermarket near the finished section of the corridor, which is slated to open this Spring.

“There will be a sacrifice and inconvenience once construction starts again,” Brown said. “But if you look at the big picture, it won’t last forever. But it will certainly improve the vitality of the community.”

The city plans to use the additional grant money on signage and landscaping as well as cameras and street security.

“Some branding for the neighborhood, the Western Avenue corridor,” Dulin said. “Just some things that attract more businesses and more people to a commercial corridor.”

Phase two of the project will start as soon as the weather is warm enough, with a goal of finishing by the end of the year.

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