New digital billboards installed near Kennedy Expressway
by BRIAN NADIG
The installation of two approximately 100-foot-tall digital billboards along the Kennedy Expressway in Gladstone Park began about 2 weeks ago, while plans are being made to vacate one of the streets next to one of the signs.
The screen for the billboard at Menard Avenue and Northwest Highway could go up as early as this week. The angle of the screen was altered from original plans so that it will face more toward the expressway and further from the Senior Suites living complex at 5400 N. Northwest Hwy., Alderman John Arena’s chief of staff Owen Brugh said.
Work also has begun on the installation of a billboard near Northwest Highway and Austin Avenue, next to the Gladstone Park Metra station. Both of the digital billboards on Northwest Highway will be one-sided.
Arena has opposed the billboards because of concerns that they will shine on homes, and unlike most locations for the digital billboards in the city, the Northwest Highway parcels abut residential areas. The City Council recently amended an ordinance to reduce the maximum brightness of the new digital billboards being installed in the city, Brugh said.
Earlier in the year a digital billboard was installed at 4639 N. Lamon Ave., near a city Department of Streets and Sanitation yard, and another digital billboard in the 45th Ward is planned for 4840 W. Sunnyside Ave., near a city Department of Water Management yard. The city is hoping to generate about $155 million in revenue from some 40 digital billboards, which will be installed on city-owned land, over a 20-year period.
Orion Industries, which manufactures coatings for medical supplies, is moving from 5170 N. Northwest Hwy. to a warehouse at 5480 N. Northwest Hwy., next to the billboard at Austin. Orion officials had expressed concern that the base of the billboard would interfere with truck deliveries, but the issue has been addressed, Brugh said.
In a related matter, Orion is seeking to have Austin vacated between Northwest Highway and the train station in order to facilitate deliveries to the plant, Brugh said. That stretch of Austin is about an eighth of a block long.
The city would maintain easement rights to allow maintenance of the billboard, and commuters would have access to the train station, but public parking on that section of Austin would be eliminated, Brugh said. That stretch of Austin is usually free of parked cars except on weekdays when commuters park there, he said.
Arena held a community meeting on vacating the street in February. Orion would be responsible for maintaining the street, Brugh said.