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Star-Crossed Crosswalks: Peds Will Have to Wait for Safe Passage in Lakeview

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Looking east at Newport and Southport. Photo: John Greenfield

Yesterday there was some good news about the intersection of Newport Avenue and Southport Avenue, located half a block north of the Brown Line’s Southport stop:

However, it didn’t turn out to be accurate news. When I called the Lakeview Chamber of Commerce this morning, executive director Lee Crandell, he said that the installation of planned crosswalks on the north and south legs of the T-shaped intersection have been delayed until next year.

“The crosswalks were supposed to rolled into a project to make other improvements at the intersection,” he explained. A water main on Newport was recently replaced, and the crosswalks were supposed to be striped after the water main on Southport was replaced and the street was repaved.

“I had heard earlier that this was moving forward and tweeted it out, but it didn’t work out,” Crandell said. That was certainly an honest mistake -- I've made far worse fumbles on social media myself.

Still it’s unfortunate that the crosswalks aren’t going in this year, because they’re sorely needed. As Crandell pointed out, Newport is the first crossing opportunity north of the station, and new businesses like LUSH Cosmetics and the Mint Julep boutique are located nearby.

Despite the lack of marked crosswalks, it’s legal to cross Southport at Newport. The east-west pedestrian routes are what’s called “unmarked crosswalks,” and there are wheelchair ramps on the east side of Southport, although not on the west.

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The lack of marked crosswalks does seem to make crossing more dangerous here. Photo: John Greenfield

Moreover, when I staked out the crosswalk here late this afternoon, I saw plenty of people crossing. However, doing so in heavy traffic, in which drivers had no visual cues to look out for pedestrians (there are no stop signs for north-south traffic here) is akin to a game of “Frogger.”

It's a similar situation as the intersection of Surf Street and Broadway in East Lakeview, which has heavily used unmarked crosswalks. Due to city regulations about sight lines, the Chicago Department of Transportation deemed it was unsafe to stripe crossings at that location. However, a senior was fatality struck in one of those unmarked crosswalks last February.

CDOT spokesman Mike Claffey was unable to provide an update on Newport/Southport this afternoon and local alderman Tom Tunney’s office didn’t return a message.

“We’d still like to see crosswalks striped here eventually,” Crandall said.

It’s enough to make you want to show up in the middle of the night with some paint rollers and a bucket of Sherwin Williams.

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