Yorkville considers safer Route 47 pedestrian crossing

The intersection of Route 47 and Hydraulic Avenue in downtown Yorkville, looking to the southeast.

YORKVILLE – Walking across the four-lane Route 47 at Hydraulic Avenue in the heart of downtown Yorkville can be a nerve-wracking experience.

Now the city of Yorkville wants to make it safer and easier for pedestrians to cross the highway, known locally as South Bridge Street.

The question to be decided first is whether the city wants to construct a walkway over the highway or build one under the Fox River bridge along the south shoreline.

“These concepts have been floated by staff and residents over the years during various downtown planning initiatives but have never made it beyond brainstorming,” City Administrator Bart Olson said.

Route 47 is heavily traveled by large trucks and other vehicles, while the downtown restaurants and bars near the intersection with Hydraulic have been doing a brisk business.

“In the past several years, the city has seen an uptick in nightlife patrons in the downtown area,” Olson said. “These patrons frequently choose to cross Route 47 at the unsignalized, unstriped area near Hydraulic Avenue.”

The Yorkville City Council on Sept. 26 approved a $29,700 contract for Sugar Grove-based Engineering Enterprises Inc. to conduct a conceptual study to determine the feasibility of the alternatives.

A car turns off Route 47 onto Hydraulic Avenue in downtown Yorkville in his view looking northeast.

City Engineer Brad Sanderson said options for building an overpass, which would need considerable clearance over the roadway, could include long ramps extending in both directions or a more compact spiral arrangement. Another option would be the use of elevators, he said.

Complicating the overpass option and creating another obstacle for pedestrians is the presence of the single-line railroad track that also crosses the highway at Hydraulic.

A walkway under the bridge would have to be cantilevered out over the river, Sanderson said.

City officials have long contemplated development of a riverwalk connecting Riverfront Park on the east with properties to the west of the bridge.

Olson noted that the riverwalk option would require approval and coordination with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the Army Corps of Engineers and likely the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.

“We need to look at the structural integrity of the bridge,” Sanderson noted.

Meanwhile, the overpass bridge option would require the city to work with the Illinois Department of Transportation to ensure proper clearance over Route 47 and with the railroad to ensure proper separation from the tracks, Olson said.

The study, with concept drawings and cost estimates, is expected to be delivered in March 2024.

Hydraulic Avenue in downtown Yorkville, seen here looking east, intersects with the four-lane Route 47.