Voting for Transportation Projects in the 49th Ward Started Saturday

Rogers Park Metra Station
One of the projects 49th Ward residents can vote to fund would replace this Metra shelter with a structure that offers more protection from the elements. Photo: Jeff Zoline.

Residents of the 49th Ward, which includes Rogers Park and the Loyola University Campus, can now vote on how to spend their alderman’s discretionary “menu” money. In 2010, Alderman Joe Moore became the first U.S. politician to implement this democratic budgeting process, called participatory budgeting. This year he’s allocating $1 million of the ward’s $1.3 million in menu funds for projects proposed and approved by his constituents. As in the other three wards participating in the participatory budgeting process, residents 16 and older can vote.

The first question on the ballot is what percentage of the funds should be allocated to street repaving. This year, any street repaving allocation will be combined with street lighting upgrades, with one dollar being spent on lighting for every three dollars spent on paving. That means, for example, that if voters choose to allocate 50 percent of the $1 million to street repaving, then eight blocks would be resurfaced and two blocks would get new lights, leaving $500,000 for other projects.

Four of the eleven proposals on the ballot are transportation projects, including sidewalk repair, shared-lane markings, a shelter for the Rogers Park Metra station, bus-stop benches, and a pedestrian safety study. Residents can vote for four different projects.

The bikeway proposal would add shared-lane markings (AKA “sharrows”) to 1.3 miles of Clark Street, from Howard Street to Albion Avenue (a ward boundary). This would help close the bikeway gap on Clark Street between Edgewater Avenue and Howard.

The Metra shelter project would add a 150-feet long shelter with a full-length bench to the station’s inbound platform, at a cost of $125,000. The bus stop bench proposal would install black metal benches at 15 stops that don’t currently have seating, on Clark, Howard, Rogers Avenue, and Sheridan Avenue, at a total cost of $36,750.

Finally, residents can vote on whether or not to finance an engineering study to “explore measures to enhance pedestrian safety along Sheridan Road, including curb bump-outs and changes to traffic signal and pedestrian crosswalk timings.” The street, a de facto extension of Lake Shore Drive, could certainly benefit from these improvements. Justin Haugens lives at Lunt Avenue and Sheridan and sits on the traffic and public safety committee for the 49th Ward’s participatory budgeting process. He says committee members “saw people speeding and running red lights” on Sheridan. He also said “the lights seem timed in a fashion that allows drivers who exceed the speed limit to find a ‘cushion spot’ and meet consecutive green lights.”

Early voting occurs this week at four CTA stations and the alderman’s office:

Monday, April 29
3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Howard ‘L’ Station
(Howard Street entrance)

Tuesday, April 30
3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Morse ‘L’ Station
(Morse Avenue and Lunt Avenue entrances)

Wednesday, May 1
3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Jarvis “L” Station

Thursday, May 2
3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Loyola ‘L’ Station
(Sheridan Road entrance)

You can vote early at the 49th Ward Service Office, 7356 N. Greenview.  The office will be open Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (open until 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday and Friday). The final day is Saturday, May 4th, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., at the Chicago Math and Science Academy, 7212 N. Clark.

 

  • Erik Swedlund

    Early voting also occurs every day at the 49th ward office, and the main voting event is Saturday at Chicago Math and Science Academy.

  • Anonymous

    There isn’t a “cushion spot” on Sheridan, the entire stretch is green at the same time, then goes red at (roughly) the same time. This is good and bad. Good when busy because it keeps traffic moving, bad when not busy because it’s wide street that encourages speeding.

  • That’s right, Erik. Thank you. I’ve updated the post to reflect this.

  • I’m less familiar with Sheridan Road as I am with other streets in Chicago, as it’s not really part of a biking network.

    CDOT timed the signals on the new Congress Parkway to “reward” drivers who traveled at the speed limit.

    I am curious to know how much private automobile traffic on Sheridan Road is there for more than 1 mile and how much is using Sheridan for very short trips to get another street in their route.

  • Erik Swedlund

    As a new resident of the 49th ward (thanks to the redistricting), I’m pretty excited about participatory budgeting. I will be voting on Saturday.

  • I don’t recall, was the redistricting announced prior to the fall PB session beginning or after?

    If after, do you plan on participating in a committee in the future?

  • I think it was announced before.

  • I believe it’s more thoroughfare than short distance. Even for residents, the only time I get on Sheridan driving wise is to exit the neighborhood entirely.

  • Erik Swedlund

    If I don’t move, I would be interested in participating in a committee.

  • My experience (dating back to 1970 or so) is that most private cars are passing through on Sheridan from Evanston and points north to Lake Shore Drive. Most traffic within the neighborhood tends to avoid Sheridan because it’s a pain in the butt. The typical traffic pattern is a slalom course, avoiding parallel parking cars and buses on the right and left turning traffic on the left. That’s the way it’s been since before 1970.

  • Erik, we’d love to have you serve next year on a committee as a community representative. Contact my Participatory Budgeting coordinator, Cecilia Salinas, at cecilia.salinas@cityofchicago.org or 773-338-5796.

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