News

One-hour street parking on Lincoln Highway in downtown DeKalb? City council to decide

Also: Lincoln Highway lane reconfiguration from four to three lanes also moves forward

DeKALB – Downtown merchants are asking the city to consider restricting on-street parking along Lincoln Highway between First and Fourth streets to one hour.

It’s one of several downtown street proposals up for DeKalb City Council vote Monday, as the city looks to move forward with its separate plans to reconfigure Lincoln Highway from four to three lanes. City officials have said it’s an effort meant to encourage more pedestrian traffic downtown and curb speeding trucks.

The parking request is meant to encourage better turnover of on-street parking, city staff wrote in documents released ahead of Monday’s meeting, set for 6 p.m. at the DeKalb Public Library.

“The rising number of retail businesses that rely on frequent customer visits are particularly concerned with the current three-hour limit on parking at these on-street spaces,” according to documents. “The Downtown Merchants report that their studies show that some cars are not moved at all during an eight-hour work shift.”

DeKalb police officers who’s responsibility it is to patrol downtown streets for parking violations are “presently committed elsewhere” according to city documents, which acknowledge that more regular enforcement would help address the problem.

“Enforcement will be needed regardless of the allowable parking time, and arrangements will need to be made to direct some more attention into the downtown area,” according to documents.

Three-hour parking also is allowed, as of August 2019, in several downtown public parking lots, including the Embree, Pond and Van Buer parking lots between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.

The proposed changes, if approved, would only impact street parking on specific retail corridors of Lincoln Highway from First to Fourth streets between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. The proposed change would not impact parking on Second or Third street north or south of Lincoln Highway, nor those patronizing dining establishments after 6 p.m.

If approved, those found in violation of the parking rules could receive a $5 windshield ticket, according to city documents.

Lane reconfiguration moves forward

A years-long plan to change the downtown strip of Lincoln Highway from four lanes to three is expected to move forward this week.

The DeKalb City Council will vote on two contracts – one for construction services and another for engineering plans – along with a permit through the Illinois Department of Transportation for the plan. It’s meant to encourage more foot traffic downtown and deter speeding vehicles, city officials have said.

With a reduction of four lanes to three, the middle lane would serve as a turning lane, according to city documents.

“The resulting gain of five to six feet of sidewalk space on both the north and south sides offered safer and calmer pedestrian passage in contrast to the truck raceway that has dominated the downtown streetscape for decades,” according to documents.

Up for council vote includes a $1.76 million contract with DeKalb-based Elliott & Woods, Inc. for the construction plans. City staff also recommend the council approve a $124,925 contract with engineering consultant Fehr-Graham & Associates, based in northern Illinois. The engineering consultant has been used regularly for city projects over the years, including most recently with street maintenance on First, Taylor and Seventh streets between 2019 and 2021, documents show.

Plans also include updates to historic lighting, better signage, wide pedestrian-friendly walking spaces near interactions, more color and adding electric components to permanent planters downtown to brighten special events.

If approved, the city plans to use funds from tax revenue collected through its tax increment finance district known as TIF 3, a geographical area which includes only the downtown DeKalb strip.

It’s not clear when work will begin specifically on the lane changes, although city staff said residents and motorists should expect a significant impact to daily downtown life while the project is underway.

“This major downtown project will require almost daily adjustments to the rhythms of downtown commerce and business operations,” according to documents. “A key focus will be the minimizing of business disruption and customer inconvenience, while maintaining a steady pace of work to meet construction timelines and to remain within budget.”