No quick fix to a flooding/ice issue at an Edgebrook bus shelter because it’s on a WPA street, Ald. Napolitano says
by BRIAN NADIG
Standing stormwater at a CTA bus shelter at Lehigh and Hiawatha avenues in Edgebrook has been an ongoing problem, making the shelter unusable at times, especially when ice builds up in the winter, according to residents.
Alderman Anthony Napolitano (41st) said that his office was been receiving complaints about the shelter for years but that no agency wants to take responsibility for addressing the issue. He added that his staff has made numerous attempts to get the problem fixed.
The shelter is situated on the parkway along Lehigh, a Works Progress Administration street that falls under the jurisdiction of the state, according to Napolitano’s chief of staff Chris Vittorio.
WPA streets were built without curbs, gutters and proper drainage under a federal program in the 1930s, and the city still has 518 remaining blocks of unimproved WPA streets. On these streets the roadway is usually crowned in the middle so that the rain water will run off to the side, where it will eventually evaporate or be absorbed into the ground.
Lehigh was resurfaced a couple of years ago, but improvements were not made to the parkway, Vittorio said.
Without the installation of curbs and gutters to direct the rain water to a catch basin that also would have to be put in, even a temporary solution such as a concrete pad under the shelter may not help and could make the problem worse, Vittorio said. There could be ADA accessibility issues if the shelter were raised several inches off the ground, he said.
Installing a catch basin also could require extensive sewer work to complete the project, Vittorio said.
The city recently released a capital plan that calls for the city’s remaining WPA streets to be improved over the next 14 years, but Lehigh may not fall under that plan given that it is a state roadway.
On a side note, Edgebrook is well known for its WPA streets, as many residents like the rustic, rural atmosphere they offer.
Napolitano noted that occasionally residents pick up a petition from his office to get support for the installation of curbs and gutters on their WPA street but he cannot recall a completed petition ever being returned.
Napolitano said that the mayor’s administration has been advised to engage residents in dialogue before replacing any WPA side streets in Edgebrook.