Earlier this month Streetsblog reader Anna Weaver was walking with a friend on the sidewalk on the north side of Huron between Wabash and State in River North when their path was blocked by a construction zone for a large development.
The project is a 26-story, high-end transit-oriented development, featuring 102 rental units and 31 parking spaces, located a short walk south of the Chicago Red Line station. It’s being developed by CA Ventures and was designed by the architecture firm Valerio Dewalt Train Associates.
The sidewalk was fenced off, and about half the width of the Huron roadway was blocked. There were no signs warning about the sidewalk closure, so the situation forced pedestrians to cross to the south side of Huron in the middle of the block.
The blockage of sidewalks and bike lanes by construction projects is a common problem in our city, and often the problem doesn’t get addressed unless a citizen (or Streetsblog) gives a heads-up the Chicago Department of Transportation. In fairness, once CDOT is aware of the issue, they generally move quickly to address it.
Weaver wrote the department to tell them about the Huron blockage, noting that there should at least be a warning sign at Wabash, so that westbound pedestrians have a chance to cross at a crosswalk before they encounter the obstruction. “This is both extremely dangerous, and utterly unacceptable,” she wrote. “Please let me know why this is permissible.”
To their credit, once notified, CDOT took immediate action. A department official told Weaver that the construction company, Clark Construction, was supposed to provide a barrier-protected walkway for pedestrians, but instead they pushed their construction fence against the Jersey wall barrier and made no pedestrian accommodation.
Weaver was told an inspector had ticketed Clark and was going on site that day to make sure the company moved their fence back and provided ramps at ends of walkway. The official said the contractor would be ticketed each day until they came into compliance with the requirement to provide the walkway.
Two days after Weaver contacted CDOT, Clark had placed a “Sidewalk Closed, Cross Here” sign directing pedestrians to cross at Wabash. However, the blockade was still in place, with no other pedestrian accommodations.
When Weaver dropped by this afternoon, a week after she originally contacted CDOT, Clark had provided a protected walkway on State, but there was still no walkway on Huron, just the sign directing pedestrians to cross the street. Presumably, the contractor has continued to get tickets for noncompliance, but they’re still violating the rules and inconveniencing people on foot.
CDOT had the day off for Lincoln’s Birthday today, but I’ll update this post if we hear from them tomorrow on this issue.