SKOKIE, IL — Skokie trustees last month approved an intergovernmental agreement with Niles and Morton Grove to allow the construction of a multiuse path on the south side of Oakton Street.
When completed, the nearly 1.4-mile, 10-foot-wide pathway will run from the Niles-Morton Grove border at West Oakton Street and North Caldwell Avenue in the west to the Skokie-Morton Grove border at Oakton and Gross Point Road.
Currently, there are no sidewalks on much of that stretch of Oakton Street. The new pathway would also go over the railroad tracks at Lehigh Avenue.
The project is estimated to cost $4.1 million. So far, the villages have gotten grant funding to cover more than 80 percent of that. The new cooperative agreement between the three towns divides responsibility for the remaining $815,000 equally between them.
According to a memo from Skokie Engineering Director Russ Rietveld and Public Works Director Max Slankard, the trio of municipalities has obtained about $3.031 million from the Congestion Mitigation Air Quality Improvement Program — federal grants managed locally by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning. The county will provide another $267,000 through its Invest in Cook grants program.
The new pathway will provide an additional connection to the North Branch Trail, increased transportation to area businesses and safer access to Niles West High School, 5701 Oakton St., according to planning documents.
Skokie will solicit engineering consultants, the Illinois Department of Transportation will put out bids for a contractor and Morton Grove will go about obtaining an easement for portions of private property needed for the path, according to the terms of the intergovernmental agreement, or IGA.
The village board unanimously approved the IGA with its Niles Township neighbors at its April 18 meeting. At the same meeting, trustees signed onto an $130,590 agreement with the Christopher B. Burke Engineering consultancy to manage construction.
Skokie, Niles and Morton Grove had previously entered into an IGA in 2019 to cover the costs of design and engineering for the Oakton path project.
The improvements followed calls from a group of Niles West High School parents who reportedly lobbied the village of Niles for safer routes for students.