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.

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