By Paul Gorski
Thank you to Tim Hanson, Director of Rockford’s Public Works Department, for taking time on a Sunday to answer resident questions regarding roadwork projects.
I recently met with a group of city and county residents who had questions on a variety of topics: special garbage pickup programs, what to do about neighbors with abandoned cars in their yards, and when are “they” going to fix 20th St. The answers vary depending where you live. The tough topic was the 20th St. question.
The residents asked if I knew about any plans to resurface 20th St. from Blackhawk Road to Sandy Hollow. I serve as a Cherry Valley Township Trustee, and I was not aware of any specific roadwork in this area. I did know part of that road was the responsibility of Cherry Valley Township and part the City of Rockford, and the street borders Cherry Valley and Rockford Township.
I promised to do my homework on the 20th St. question. So, early Sunday morning I fired off an email to Tim Hanson of Rockford and Ken Mattson, Cherry Valley Township Highway Commissioner, copying Dan Conness, Rockford Township Highway Commissioner; and Joe Vanderwerff, Winnebago County Engineer.
About an hour later, I get a reply from Hanson. Not just “I’ll get back to you Monday” but a detailed answer to my detailed questions. Later in the day I replied, he replied, and this went on into the late afternoon. He did not have to do that. It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon, but he took the time to answer my questions in detail. It could have waited until Monday.
I did not like all the answers he gave me. I understood his reasoning though, and the financial constraints governments have when it comes to roadwork. Resurfacing roads is expensive. I learned years ago we have more freeze-thaw cycles locally than most other areas in country and that freezing and thawing takes a toll on local roads.
Local residents complain about Rockford roads and for good reason sometimes. The city spends millions on roadwork each year, and could spend more, but you would pay more in taxes. Officials like Tim Hanson are doing their best to explain the planned projects and how they are prioritized. Visit rockfordil.gov/public-works/major-projects.aspx for a list of major road projects and visit rockfordil.gov/public-works/engineering-cip.aspx to download a list of all Capital Improvement Projects (CIP).
Time permitting, I might interview Hanson and give him an opportunity to explain the CIP development and prioritization process in detail. In the meantime, thanks to Tim Hanson for taking time on a sunny Sunday afternoon to answer questions I collected from local residents.
I would be remiss if I did not also acknowledge Joe Vanderwerff and Wayne Vlk from the county highway department. I copied Vanderwerff on my email to Hanson as a courtesy. Vanderwerff is on vacation now but he forwarded the email to Vlk and Vlk confirmed receipt. Again, good customer service.
I may be critical of elected officials at times, but these staff members and officials went out of their way to respond to resident question on a weekend or while on vacation. Thanks again.