Ceremony marks reopening of Lucinda

By M. Robert Berg

The Lucinda Avenue renovation project is now close to completion, and the road has officially reopened both ways.

Phase four of the five-phase project is finished, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony opened the restored road at noon Monday.

Three speakers marked the occasion with short speeches. Ralph Tompkins, assistant director of engineering for the city of DeKalb, spoke first, thanking a wide array of people involved in the project.

“We started working on this project in 1977,” Tompkins said. “There are now four phases complete, and the final phase (will be complete) in 1994.”

Tompkins thanked individuals from the city, NIU and the private sector for their work in the project. He included the Illinois Department of Transportation’s Donovan Lee; Ron Naylor, DeKalb’s director of Public Works; Eddie Williams, NIU’s vice president for Finance and Planning; and Jack Redell and Larry Knott from Rockford Blacktop, the project contractor.

“This was finished one month ahead of schedule,” Tompkins said.

The success is due to a diverse group of people who worked together well and were able to solve problems as they arose, he said.

DeKalb Mayor Greg Sparrow also spoke, reiterating thanks to the people Tompkins mentioned and to State Sen. Brad Burzynski (R-Sycamore) and State Rep. David Wirsing (R-DeKalb).

“The state provided a good chunk of funding,” Sparrow said. “We received three million (dollars) from the state of Illinois.”

The mayor commented on the aesthetics of the new roadway. “We all can be proud of what we see today,” Sparrow said. “It’s a nice blend with the university community and obviously with the city as well.”

NIU is a part of DeKalb that should be highlighted, Sparrow said. “It’s important to show off the university,” he said.

NIU President John La Tourette was the final speaker at the ceremony. “It was a great pleasure to work with the city, the legislators and contractors,” he said. “(All these helped) to assist the university to make this a better place to live and study.”

La Tourette commented on the safety aspect of the new median, street lights and roadway. “The increased lighting and the separating of pedestrians from traffic will help us a great deal in the future,” he said.

The proceedings ended with Sparrow and La Tourette cutting an orange ribbon stretched across the road.

The fifth phase, to be completed in 1994, will put a two-inch layer of blacktop on the road, Sparrow said.