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Several Safety Improvements Are Coming to Central, Milwaukee in the 45th Ward

Protected bike lanes will be added on Central from Goodman to Gunnison (red line). Sharrows will be added from Lawrence to Montrose (green line). Curb bump-outs will be added on Central at Ainslie, Giddings, and Leland, as well as on Milwaukee at Giddings, Warner, and Cuyler. Image: Google Maps

After a left-turning driver fatally struck two-year-old Noah Katz last November at Central and Giddings in Jefferson Park, 45th Ward alderman John Arena and the Chicago Department of Transportation planned to expedite a previous plan for a curb bump-out to improve safety at the intersection. Alderman Nicholas Sposato of the neighboring 38th Ward initially opposed the removal of the existing rush-hour parking ban on Central to allow for the sidewalk extension, but he eventually saw the light on the issue.

So it was good to read this morning in DNAinfo that several other safety improvements are now planned for Central Avenue in Jefferson Park, a roadway that has been plagued with crashes largely due to drivers speeding to and from the Kennedy Expressway. There were 367 crashes on Central between Montrose and Higgins (two blocks south of the Kennedy) between 2010 and 2014, including two pedestrian fatalities, according to Illinois Department of Transportation data.

The improvements, for which Arena will use $250,000 in ward money, also include bump-outs at Leland (a block south of Giddings) and Ainslie (about two blocks north of Giddings).

The plan also calls for new bikeways on Central. Protected bike lanes will be added on the quarter-mile stretch of central between Goodman (just south of the Kennedy) and Gunnison, and “sharrows” (bike symbols with chevrons) will be marked on the four-block stretch of between Lawrence and Montrose. That means there will be a half-block gap with no bike lanes or makings between Gunnison and Lawrence.

Right-turn lanes for drivers will also be added on Central north and south of Lawrence, DNA reported. CDOT plans to wrap up the work by the end of the year.

In addition to the work on Central, Arena and CDOT are planning to install curb bump-outs on Milwaukee at Giddings, Warner, and Cuyler.

In other 45th Ward news, DNA noted that five participatory budgeting assemblies are scheduled to narrow down projects for the October ballot. Elected projects will be implemented in 2018. Here are the scheduled meetings:

    • 6 p.m. Thursday at St. John's Episcopal Church, 3857 N. Kostner Ave. in Old Irving Park
    • 11 a.m. Saturday at the Jefferson Park Public Library, 5363 W. Lawrence Ave.
    • 6 p.m. Monday at Hitch Elementary School, 5625 N. McVicker Ave. in Jefferson Park
    • 6 p.m. May 9 at Eden United Church of Christ, 5051 W. Gunnison Ave. in Jefferson Park

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