Pedestrian bump-outs intended to calm traffic in front of Hitch School
by BRIAN NADIG
A Cook County grant will be used to pay for the installation of two pedestrian bump-outs on Bryn Mawr Avenue in front of Hitch School.
The concrete bump-outs, which are designed to shorten the distance of a crosswalk, will be located along the west side of Austin Avenue and will extend about 10 feet from the curb onto Bryn Mawr, blocking the parking lane at the intersection.
About a dozen people attended a July 31 town hall meeting on the project which Alderman John Arena (45th) held at the school, 5625 N. McVicker Ave. Last year a proposal for the bump-outs was on the ballot for the ward’s participatory budget vote, but the item did not receive enough votes to be funded.
Arena said that he tries to find other funding sources for capital improvement projects which are not included in the ward’s annual discretionary budget and that with the help of County Commissioner Bridget Gainer (D-10), a grant of up to $75,000 was allocated for the bump-outs.
Arena said that the bump-outs will improve safety because they prevent motorists from using the parking lane to make sudden maneuvers around vehicles which are waiting to turn left. “By narrowing that roadway, it will calm traffic,” he said.
The existence of the bump-outs, along with a crossing guard at the Austin-Bryn Mawr intersection, will encourage more schoolchildren to cross Bryn Mawr at Austin instead of at McVicker Avenue, which runs along the west side of the school, Arena said. “This will help funnel people to (Austin),” he said.
Bryn Mawr is heavily traveled during rush hour, especially in the morning as motorists travel west toward the Kennedy Expressway, Arena said. The Hitch School Local School Council held a meeting earlier this year to discuss traffic and safety concerns about Bryn Mawr.
Gainer said that the project was chosen for the grant because it will serve as a pro-active measure to improve safety for students. “We’re getting ahead of it,” she said.
A start date for the construction has not been set, and a decision on whether the bump-outs could accommodate landscaping will be made after the design phase is completed. A maintenance agreement with a community group or other entity would be sought to maintain any landscaping there.
While bump-outs are not planned for the east side of the intersection, lines could be painted on the street which direct vehicles to stay in one lane of traffic at the intersection, according to a project official.
While Bryn Mawr is not a county road, the grant can be used for city or state roads.