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Leland Greenway Won’t Be Extended West of Clark Before Pawar Leaves Office

Leland already works as a quiet eastbound route across the 47th Ward. Adding a contraflow lane on one-way stretches between the river and Western, and between Damen and Clark, would make it more useful. Image: Google Streetview

As we reported last week, the Chicago Department of Transportation recently started construction on the Leland Avenue Greenway east of Clark Street in Uptown, in the 46th Ward. An an assistant to local alderman James Cappleman expressed hope that the bikeway will be extended west of  Clark into Ravenswood and Lincoln Square in the 47th Ward. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like that's going to happen anytime soon.

47th Ward alderman (and gubernatorial hopeful) Ameya Pawar was a strong supporter of the Berteau Greenway, the city's first traffic-calmed side-street bike route, which opened in the ward a few years ago. However, Pawar's chief of staff Jim Poole says it's unlikely that the Leland Greenway will make much headway in the district before the alderman leaves office on May 29. Pawar has previously announced that he only intended to serve two terms as alderman.

"We had talked about [the Leland Greenway] back when Berteau was being developed," Poole said. "But it's been in a holding pattern because it was unclear whether [Leland] was going to progress in the 46th Ward." The Uptown section was originally supposed to start construction a couple years ago, but utility line problems and community feedback issues delayed the work and altered the project, leading to the elimination of a proposed traffic diverter as well as curb bump-outs and traffic circles.

"I know that [the greenway in the 47th Ward] was a notion that was floated, like, 'Look what the 46th Ward is doing -- we should consider doing that here,'" Poole said. "But obviously it's a large project and there needs to be a public input process."

The Leland Curve at Lincoln. Image: Google Street View
The Leland Curve at Lincoln. Image: Google Street View
The Leland Curve at Lincoln. Image: Google Street View

Poole suggested I contact the residents who are forming the new Heart of Lincoln Square Neighbors Association to get their take on extending the greenway. Matt Martin, one of the organizers, told me he hadn't heard of the proposal before, but would bring it up at the group's first meeting on Monday, October 2, 7-8:30 p.m. at Carbon Arc bar, 4614 North Lincoln.

Poole added that their probably won't be much movement on the Leland Greenway in the ward until after CDOT completes work on making the curving section of Leland between Lincoln and Western, by the Western Brown Line station, more pedestrian friendly. DNAinfo reported that Leland curve project will involve widening the narrow sidewalk on the north side of the street and replacing an ugly guardrail with planters. Pawar has committed $100,000 in ward money for the work.

Poole says it currently looks like that work will begin next spring or summer. He added that the Leland/Lincoln intersection is one of the busiest in the ward, with lots of people walking between the 'L' stop and the semi-pedestrianized business strip on Lincoln north of Leland.

Poole noted that the Leland Greenway isn't necessarily a top priority in the ward, since conventional bike lanes were added to Lawrence Avenue, a block north, between Ashland and Western as part of a road diet implemented three years ago but he says there could be support for it in the future. "We're certainly always open to bike infrastructure and traffic calming, which is what neighborhood greenways do."

Leland already works well as an eastbound bike route in the ward. Adding a contraflow bike lane on the one-way eastbound stretches of Leland between Western and the Chicago River, and between Damen and Clark, would definitely increase Leland's usefulness as a mellower alternative to Lawrence and Wilson. So it would be great if we see some movement on this project sooner than later.

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