WINNETKA – The Winnetka Village Council explored taking control of a portion of Green Bay Road as a potential path toward revitalizing the Hubbard Woods business district at a study session on April 10. Currently, all portions of Green Bay Road running through Winnetka are owned and managed by the State of Illinois.
A process called “jurisdictional transfer” would permit Winnetka to take jurisdiction over a state-owned road, to manage how it is maintained, repaired and developed. In this instance, the council members are considering jurisdictional transfer as a tool that could help them implement streetscape changes to the Hubbard Woods business district, that otherwise would be difficult to complete when the main artery is owned and managed by the state.
“This particular tool may be very effective for the complete revitalization of Hubbard Woods,” President Chris Rintz said at the outset of the meeting.
Representatives from the village met with the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) in February to discuss potential streetscape improvements along the Green Bay corridor in all three business districts, Jim Bernahl, assistant director of public works, said. IDOT indicated that it would only consider a jurisdictional transfer for continuous segments of Green Bay Road — such as from Scott Avenue to Tower Road in Hubbard Woods — but not smaller portions of the road, for instance within the Elm Street business district.
Neighboring North Shore suburbs have negotiated jurisdictional transfers with the state for portions of Green Bay that run through their villages. Wilmette and Glencoe both negotiated a jurisdictional transfer in the 1990’s, providing the villages with more control over the road as they focused on economic development. Likewise, Winnetka took jurisdictional transfer over a portion of Tower Road in 2000 to make utility and roadway improvements.
Steve Saunders, Winnetka’s village engineer, cautioned council members that the process is not without risk. The real costs come later when the road needs complete reconstruction, estimated upwards to $15 million, Saunders said.
Bernahl provided an overview of the various options to consider, if the council opted for a jurisdictional transfer in the future. The fastest option is to seek a jurisdictional transfer without a grant application or request for additional funding. Another option would be to pursue a jurisdictional transfer with funding assistance directly from IDOT; the village would take the lead in the design and construction of improvements. A third option — one that Bernahl said is the most common — a jurisdictional transfer is requested as part of a grant application and the state would take the lead on managing the improvements.
A final option would not involve a jurisdictional transfer at all, but instead the village would negotiate approval of a design objective with IDOT that may or may not include additional funding sources.
Council members expressed some interest in exploring a jurisdictional transfer of the portion of Green Bay Road running through the Hubbard Woods business district at some point in the future.
But President Rintz emphasized that at this stage, the council members were simply becoming more educated on the process, while their focus remains on improvements in the Elm Street business district. “I want to make sure we all have a good grasp of the tool box before we sit down,” he said.