Pedestrian traffic light put on hold
by BRIAN NADIG
Plans to install a pedestrian crossing signal in front of the Jefferson Park CTA Terminal, 4917 N. Milwaukee Ave., have been put on hold because the project has not been endorsed by city traffic engineers.
The project finished in the top five out of about a dozen proposals in a participatory budget vote which Alderman John Arena (45th) held last May. The vote was designed to allow residents to decide how to spend most of the ward’s $1.32 million in discretionary funds for infrastructure projects in 2013.
The top five finishers were expected to be funded, leaving about $550,000 for street resurfacing. The other winners were installing an artificial turf field at Beaubien School, power washing and painting several viaducts, installing new lighting in the Milwaukee Avenue viaduct under the Metra train tracks at the Kennedy Expressway and creating a food pantry garden in the Jefferson Park area.
While pedestrians going to the CTA terminal can cross Milwaukee at stoplights at Gale Street or Higgins Avenue, a signalized crosswalk is needed at the terminal due to the high volume of automobile and pedestrian traffic in the area, according to Arena’s chief of staff Owen Brugh. "That one-block stretch of the 45th Ward is where we have the most car, bicycle and pedestrian crashes," Brugh said.
Brugh said that the traffic signal could be synchronized with the signals at Higgins and Gale, making it easier for bus drivers to negotiate left turns into and out of the terminal. The signal would be located at a bus entrance and exit on the east side of Milwaukee and near a driveway for a plaza with Parkway Bank and Popeye’s Chicken on the west side of Milwaukee.
Brugh said that a concern of city Department of Transportation staff is the proximity of the signal to an alley that runs north of Popeye’s. Currently vehicles can turn left or right onto Milwaukee from the alley.
While 2013 discretionary funds will not be used for the project, Arena will continue to pursue it as part of a federal initiative to improve bike lanes on Milwaukee Avenue, Brugh said. He said that approximately $125,000 in discretionary funds earmarked for the crossing signal will instead go toward street resurfacing in the ward.