Grand Avenue Will Be Widened Between Chicago Avenue and Pulaski Road

Grand will be widened by four feet, but at least CDOT is adding sharrows.
Grand will be widened by four feet, but at least CDOT is adding sharrows.

Update 2/15/17 7:00 AM: Chicago Department of Transportation spokesman Mike Claffey now says that, contrary to what he said on Monday, this stretch of Grand will not even be getting shared lane markings due to the presence of rush hour parking controls. CDOT should be providing more info later today.

On Saturday Mayor Emanuel, 26th Ward Alderman Roberto Maldonado, and 27th Ward alderman Walter Burnett broke ground on the next phase of the Grand Avenue reconstruction project, which will rebuild and widen Grand between Chicago Avenue (about 2900 West) and Pulaski Road (4000 West). Grand will be expanded from its current width of 42 feet to 46 feet, which will encourage faster driving.

On the plus side, the Chicago Department of Transportation will be adding shared-lane markings, aka “sharrows,” the bike-and-chevron symbols that remind drivers to watch out for cyclists and encourage people on bikes to ride a few feet away from parked cars to avoid being “doored.” While these aren’t nearly as useful as actual bike lanes, let alone protected lanes, Grand is an important route bike west and northwest from downtown, so it’s good that this stretch of the avenue is finally getting some kind of bike route designation. The only other section of Grand in the city with bikeways marked on the pavement is in River North from Lake Shore Drive to Franklin Street, which mostly has buffered lanes.

The West Side construction project also includes rehabbing of most of the adjacent sidewalks, which will be widened in some locations and will get new wheelchair ramps. 20 percent of the project area will get permeable sidewalks to help reduce storm water runoff. Energy-efficient LED street lights will also be installed, and 149 trees will be planted. The project will also include modernizing eight traffic lights within Grand, Division Street, Monticello Avenue.

“Today the city continues its work to improve roads conditions along Grand Avenue in Humboldt Park,” said Mayor Emanuel in a statement. “The reconstruction, repaving and rehabbing of roads is important to our communities because it improves mobility, makes our streets safer and helps revitalize neighborhoods.”

Saturday’s groundbreaking today marked the fifth of eight total projects taking place along Grand between Fullerton (at the city’s western border) and Des Plaines. A news release from the mayor’s office shates that the work on the 1.5-mile stretch between Chicago and Pulaski “will help improve safety and ease the movement of vehicular and bicycle traffic.”

During the project, traffic will be reduced to one lane in each direction within the work zone. The project will also require the closure of a railroad viaduct at Grand and Homan Street in summer 2017, requiring a detour via Division and Kedzie Avenue.

Construction of this phase of the Chicago-to-Pulaski segment is scheduled for completion in late 2017. This will be followed by final three phases of the Grand Avenue project: Chicago to Damen Avenue; Damen to Racine Avenue; and Racine to Des Plaines.

The $13.6 million project is being bankrolled with federal road funding plus tax-increment financing funds.

  • Jeremy

    When there are only two cars in the photo, widening the road seems like a waste of money and priorities.

  • what_eva

    any idea how they’re laying out the 46′? Is there parking along most of it? 2 parking lanes at 8′ would leave 15′ travel lanes, which seems ludicrously wide. Or is this one of those rush-hour-restricted effectively 4 lanes things such that it’s more like 11.5′ lanes but still closer to a 15′ lane when parking is allowed?

  • Pat

    Maybe they can move the PBLs we never got in River North to some other portions of Grand.

  • The road has an annual average daily traffic count of less than 13,000 cars. So, yes, two marked lanes in each direction and building no bike lanes is an abomination and against every one of CDOT’s stated and planned intentions to “make Chicago the most bicycle friendly city” and install bike infrastructure on “spoke routes” that it designated back in 2012 in the Streets for Cycling 2020 Plan.

    This is garbage.

  • JacobEPeters

    it sounds like this will be 2 lanes in each direction with no parking, one 11′ wide & a second 12′ wide with a sharrow marking. Are there any publicly available documents confirming this? Because this is idiotic & I’d like to write a letter to my Alder (Maldonado) about it.

  • CDOT doesn’t typically offer construction plans or documents on the city’s website.

    The only thing I could find is that the project has bid specification number 113616, which has a project name “Grand Ave. Improvement – Section V, W. Grand Avenue from N. Pulaski Road to W. Chicago Avenue”.

  • JacobEPeters

    w/ 46′ in width and 2 lanes in each direction, it doesn’t look like there is any room for parking, which means sharrows serve even less purpose than normal. This is a beyond stupid project.

  • ardecila

    Yeah, Grand is often congested at the Pulaski intersection. That’s really the only issue, and it certainly doesn’t require the whole stretch to be widened.

    I think this is more to serve the industrial corridor than anything else, i.e. if a truck is loading in the side lane, drivers don’t have to cross the centerline of the road (potentially dangerous) to swerve around the truck.

    Of course, it just encourages drivers to pass on the right…

  • planetshwoop

    This was my thought–trucks. Nothing implies it relieves congestion, so one jumps to there being another reason why it’s needed. A different constituent to please that isn’t cars or bikes.

  • What CDOT should do with 46 feet in width is their typical “parking-bike-travel-travel-bike-parking” design (7-5-11-11-5-7).

  • undercover epicurean

    Grand is a bike route? Maybe if you have a death wish…

  • Jeremy

    What is the logic behind a 7-5-11-11-5-7 configuration? If a parked car only needs a 7 foot lane, does a moving car really need an extra 4 feet (57%)? Isn’t this what we talk about regarding road design leading to speeding?

  • PP

    Lots of trucks take this route and this could lay the groundwork for bike lanes …. eventually.

  • ohsweetnothing

    Yeah the industrial corridor is the ONLY justification I can think of. I used to bike Grand there years ago when that neighborhood was home, and widening it was the absolute last thing that comes to mind as a necessary “improvement”.

  • JacobEPeters

    I think Steve was just pointing out that their typical would fit. Knowing Steve, I doubt he was endorsing 11′ travel lanes.

    My preference southeast of Division to Western would be a PBL w/ a 30′ car travel way btwn bike lane buffers. This would allow for parking on alternating sides (8-12-10) & left turns at select intersections (10-10-10). Most of Grand in this area doesn’t have or need parking on both sides, and curb protection around the Homan intersection/Metra underpass would be ideal.

  • An 8-foot wide bus or semi-truck needs the space.

  • The minimum travel lane that CDOT builds is 10 feet, I think, but they refused to even go down to this on Clark Street (north of Diversey) when they looked into building bike lanes against the curb between parked cars and the curb.

    There wasn’t enough of a buffer between an open car door and moving traffic.

    The extra 1 foot for each travel lane could go to draw in a buffer on the 5 foot bike lane.

  • Eric

    The LED streetlights are likely to be an issue after they are rolled out city wide. Expect a lot of complaints from people with them near their homes. The type selected are too far into the blue/ white spectrum and too bright.

  • neroden

    Why not do parking-protected bike lanes (5-7-11-11-7-5)?

  • neroden

    That would call for “truck parking lanes”, not for extra driving lanes.

  • Parking protected bike lanes require 8 feet (5 for the bike lane and 3 for the door zone buffer).