Western Ave. project reaches completion
by CYRYL JAKUBOWSKI
The project to create a new five-way intersection at Western, Belmont and Clybourn avenues was completed recently.
The project required the demolition of the 55-year-old Western Avenue viaduct at that intersection in March of last year.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel joined Chicago Department of Transportation Commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld for a ribbon-cutting ceremony on July 24. The Western Avenue Corridor Improvement Project enhances traffic flow and pedestrian safety along the 1.27 mile stretch of Western Avenue between Logan Boulevard to Waveland Ave in Roscoe Village neighborhood.
"Removing the deteriorating viaduct on Western was a major step forward for the community and for the City of Chicago. It is making the streets safer, the quality of life better and creating new opportunities for economic development and neighborhood businesses," Emanuel said.
The intersection now has three lanes of traffic in each direction during rush hours, with curbside parking in some areas of the corridor during off-peak hours.
The city Department of Transportation evaluated two alternatives during the planning process, the replacement of the viaduct structure or the removal of the viaduct and replacing it with an at-grade intersection and corridor improvements. The second alternative was chosen.
The project also includes synchronized traffic signals to speed bus and vehicle traffic. The traffic signals are programmed for the new configuration and have the capacity to provide transit signal priority for CTA buses, speeding up bus service, according to a news release.
"We want to thank the residents and business owners of this community for their patience during construction," said Scheinfeld. "The department took into account your input and the pedestrian bump-outs, wider sidewalks and landscaped medians were included with you in mind. Our hope is that it creates a safer environment and enhanced traffic flow while helping to improve the quality of life for the surrounding neighborhood."
Pedestrian safety improvements include refuge islands, bump outs, high-visibility crosswalks, wider sidewalks, and the addition of pedestrian countdown signals at all signalized intersections. ADA ramps were also installed at all corners along the project corridor. In addition, the project provides new lighting to improve public safety and landscaped medians along much of the corridor.
The project includes repairs to the bridge over the North Branch of the Chicago River and improvements along Western and at the intersections of Western with Schubert, Diversey/Elston, Belmont, Roscoe and Addison Street. In addition, the project will provide new lighting and install landscaped medians along much of the corridor.
The $27.3 million construction project was funded through a mix of federal, state and TIF resources. The project began on March 1, 2016 and was completed weeks ahead of schedule. It created more than 130 jobs during the 18 month construction period.