It was quite a surprise to come upon fresh white thermoplastic stripes on Milwaukee Avenue Thursday evening. Many Chicagoans have been eagerly anticipating new protected bike lanes on Milwaukee, the city’s busiest bike street, which will be the missing link between existing PBLs on Kinzie and Elston. At a public meeting about the bike lanes at Intuit arts center on April 30, Chicago Department of Transportation staff said this stretch of Milwaukee would be repaved in May and the lanes constructed in June, pending continuing community outreach and final approval. At that meeting, a vocal minority of local business owners and residents complained about CDOT’s proposal to relocate about half of the street’s curbside parking spaces to side streets, as well as other details of the plan that they feared would make it harder to drive.
Last week crews began tearing up sections at the north and south ends of the project site for repaving. CDOT Spokesman Pete Scales said the department hopes to finish this work by this Monday. I recently noticed a few patches in the middle of this section had been recently patched, which seemed odd, since I was under the impression CDOT would be redoing the entire stretch. The new striping on this section indicates that this middle segment will not be completely repaved – no biggie, since the asphalt here is reasonably smooth. More importantly, new striping suggests that the PBL plan is now a done deal, and we can look forward to seeing the finished product sooner than later. We’ll get you more details on the status of the project soon; here’s a quick tour of what’s on the ground so far.