Smaller project, big difference Northfield Township highway commissioner's 'bucket list' project improves safety, drainage near school
It's maybe not a huge project, but it's a big deal to the Henking Elementary School community, to patrons of Catherine W. Crowley Park, and thus to Tim Rueckert, highway commissioner for the Northfield Township Road District.
"I became highway commissioner a little over five years ago, and this was definitely on my bucket list of things to do," Rueckert said during a news conference and ribbon cutting Monday at Huber Lane and Linneman Street in Glenview, where a $180,000 sidewalk and drainage project was recently completed.
Starting in 2018, delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic and aided by a $50,000 grant spearheaded by Cook County Commissioner Scott Britton, the project runs along Linneman Street from Glenwood Road to Huber Lane.
"(That) $50,000 is a ton of money for us," Rueckert said. "We tried to put that to good use, so that knocked it from $180 (thousand) to $130 (thousand). Every penny counts."
The new construction includes a widened and updated sidewalk with ADA tactile warning tiles and a new drainage system that addressed flooding on Linneman Street. Three new drainage interceptors and drainage stones were installed in addition to new sod.
"That was the major infrastructure portion of this, and quite frankly, that was my driving force," Rueckert said of the drainage improvement. Due to heavy vehicle use Linneman street had become "kind of depressed," he said, collecting standing water, ice and snow.
"I saw that water pile up and every year, as a highway commissioner, we're dumping salt on there to keep that from freezing. That was a losing battle -- when you have two inches of water that's hard to get rid of, and there's no where to put it when it's all frozen," Rueckert said.
Kloefer Construction of Northbrook executed the plan of engineering consultant Mark Toll, of Daniel Creaney Company, Northbrook.
Rueckert thanked Toll, who was present at the ribbon cutting, as well as Cook County and Northfield Township officials, Glenview School District 34 and Henking Elementary.
"Like Tim mentioned, it's definitely something that I think will make it safer for our students to come to and from our school," said Henking Principal Patty Puetz.
"We have a lot of students that do walk to school. It's a K-2 so we don't have a lot of bikers, but we have a lot of students (429), and just children who use Crowley Park. So in general this is just a great addition to the area so the kids could have a safe, very clear sidewalk to walk on. That wasn't what it was before," she said.
The warning tiles, embedded into all four corners of the intersection of Huber Lane and Linneman Street, are equipped with bumps designed to inform visually impaired pedestrians they are about to enter an intersection.
"We certainly have students with disabilities now and in the future who will benefit from this sidewalk, especially some of these modifications that they made to the sidewalk so that we are able to utilize them safely," said Henking Assistant Principal Natalie Szeles.
Rueckert, who lives in the area and sent his children to Henking, noted that sidewalks have been pushed back from the street and stop signs had likewise been relocated farther back from the intersection as added safety measures. During youth baseball season or school pickup and drop-off times the intersection is "like rush-hour traffic," said Rueckert, who played in Crowley Park as a boy.
After using a pair of gold-handled scissors to slice a green ribbon, Rueckert stated his pride with the project.
"I know sidewalks and drainage aren't sexy," he said, "but it does mean a lot."