Eyes on the Street: Unwalkable Kinzie Sidewalk Finally Replaced

kinzie-clark old and new side by side
Steps on both sides of the corner were replaced with nearly flat ramps. Photos: Steven Vance

The steps, broken pavement, and roller coaster ramps at the southwest corner of Kinzie Street and Clark Street were all repaired recently. The construction was originally supposed to wrap up by spring 2013, but didn’t finish until December. The six-month long construction was unusually complex, according to 42nd Ward Alderman Reilly’s newsletter.

Because of the height of the hidden vault under the sidewalk, instead of a smooth transition from the sidewalk to the street, pedestrians had to navigate a complex set of old and deteriorated steps. The steps that were demolished to install an ADA ramp were most likely the original steps that were created when the building at 350 N. Clark St. was built in 1912. This project was further complicated because a ComEd electrical supply line was located underneath the sidewalk.

Kinzie/Clark sidewalk construction
The staircase and ADA-compliant ramp replace the previous crumbling, roller coaster sidewalk. Photo: Steven Vance

Given this situation, it was easier to raise the roadway to meet the sidewalk. The hundreds of people who, over many years, called and sent letters to the alderman’s office – not to mention the thousands who use it each day – will be happy with the smooth transition from crosswalk to sidewalk, and the elimination of the steep, up-down ramp next to the parking garage driveway.

Roller coaster sidewalk on Kinzie Street
Gone are the roller coaster inclines on the Kinzie Street sidewalk. Image: Google Street View
  • Annie F. Adams

    Thanks for the update on this! I bike and walk on this daily, Was very happy to see it redone! Much safer now. I asked the guy painting the new crosswalks, if they were going to put back the “paint on the ground” bike lane from the parking garage to Clark. He said the architect didn’t have it in the drawings. But a week later a temporary painted bike lane was put in. Better than nothing–even though cars park in the bike lane near LaSalle all day long! This whole section of Kinzie is VERY stressful to bike in. Many entrances/exits for cars in parking lots and trucks. I keep wondering if they can’t make it a shared street like they are doing on Argyle. It is a connecting street between the Dearbourn and Kinzie protected bike lanes and has heavy bike use.

  • My proposal to improve conditions for bicycling on Kinzie Street: remove all on-street parking on one side of the street and intermix the remaining on-street parking with loading zones. For the block between Wells and LaSalle, parking – currently allowed only on the north side – would be eliminated.

    There are three parking garages on the three blocks between Wells and Dearborn, so there’s no reason to have on-street parking.

  • Annie F. Adams

    Interesting! True. There us plenty of off-street parking for both trucks and people. Just easier for them to use the street. That said, the CVS definitely needs truck parking. Folks always park in the bike lane on the East corner of LaSalle/Kinzie by the apartment drop off area. If it were a physically separate bike barrier with a pedestrian wait space, cars might not take that corner so quickly, nor would they park there. I know I mentioned this whole area to a CDOT guy and he groaned. They know it is a problem.

  • I would look into having the trucks use the apartment driveway. There don’t seem to be so many apartment dwellers using this driveway.

  • Vince

    great pictures. I am just starting on a blog. Is there any way I can use a picture of yours or maybe some help with mine. Thanks Vince


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