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Voting for Transportation Projects in the 49th Ward Started Saturday

Rogers Park Metra Station

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.

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