Digital billboard still planned for Lamon-Wilson, but eastbound traffic will be allowed
by BRIAN NADIG
A plan to install a digital billboard in the middle of the intersection of Wilson and Lamon avenues has been revised so that only eastbound traffic will be allowed through the intersection.
In July plans had called for the intersection to be permanently closed to all traffic, but area residents and Alderman John Arena (45th) objected. Traffic jams on Lawrence during rush hour are common, and many residents use Wilson to access Cicero Avenue and the nearby Wilson entrance ramps to the Edens Expressway.
Arena has said that the city Department of Transportation made the decision to close the intersection to westbound and eastbound traffic without notifying his office and that he objected once crews last summer started digging up the street. Since then, Arena has been working with the department to come up with a new plan, said Arena’s chief of staff Owen Brugh.
Due to contractual obligations with the billboard company, it appears that the billboard will have to be installed in the intersection because a nearby site of “comparable value” to the company is not available, Brugh said.
The billboard cannot be placed on grassy areas near the Mayfair Pumping Station, which is located at the intersection, because of underground infrastructure related to the facility’s operations, Brugh said. In addition, a possible location to the east has been ruled out because it is would be too close to another billboard, as the Federal Highway Beautification Act sets limits on the minimum distance separating billboards, he said.
“To try and accommodate both the contractually required billboard and access to the community, CDOT has created a plan where Lamon would become one-way southbound from Sunnyside to where it curves at Wilson. This would allow residents to still access Cicero and the Edens Expressway from Lamon and Wilson.
“However, no traffic would be able to go from Wilson westbound to Lamon. Traffic would instead have to go north on Cicero and west on Lawrence. Wilson would remain two-way up to the old Leprecan site (at 4808 W. Wilson Ave.) to accommodate the future streets and sanitation yard, but a cul-de-sac would be installed west of that,” Arena wrote in his weekly newsletter.
Currently a city Department of Streets and Sanitation yard is located at 4639 N. Lamon Ave., but the city is looking to relocate several city services to the former site of the Leprecan portable washroom company and the adjacent former Mayfair Lumber, 4825 W. Lawrence Ave.
The city has acquired the Leprecan site and is in negotiations to purchase the closed lumber facility. The sanitation yard could be relocated by the end of the year, and there are no plans yet for the site of the current sanitation facility on Lamon, Brugh said.
The department and Arena will host a community meeting on the project at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 28, at the Copernicus Center Annex, 5214 W. Lawrence Ave.
“We’ve asked CDOT to look into what options are available to make turning left from Lawrence into the neighborhood easier. Additionally, we’re in the process of having a ‘No Left Turn, 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.,’ at westbound Lawrence and Laporte removed.
“CDOT is also working on additional options to try to keep large semi-trucks off Lamon and out of the townhomes to the west,” Arena said.
In 2013, Arena voted against the proposed ordinance which authorized the city to lease city-owned land for digital billboards.