Installation of Slow Street alternative to 606 starts tomorrow with Wabansia opening

The "Alt-Bloomingdale." Yellow circles are traffic count locations. Image: CDOT
The "Alt-Bloomingdale." Yellow circles are traffic count locations. Image: CDOT

The Leland Slow Street (the city is calling it a “Shared Street”) is hugely popular. 35th Ward alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa is doing a multi-pronged, bilingual public outreach process for the proposed Palmer Slow Street, which could open by July.

Now there’s more good news. Chicago’s second Slow Street on Wabansia Avenue in Logan Square and Wicker Park should be opening tomorrow, according to 2nd Ward alderman Brian Hopkins. This 1.25-mile stretch of Wabansia, Running between Rockwell Street and Ashland Avenue, would be part of a network of Slow Streets paralleling the closed Bloomingdale Trail, including Rockwell, Cortland Street, and Wood Street.

On top of that, the Cortland stretch will be opening next week, according to a statement from 1st Ward alderman Daniel LaSpata’s office. “[The Chicago Department of Transportation] has been working with numerous aldermen to make the Cortland shared street a reality and to ensure that the odd ward boundaries do not not result in inadequate Slow Street planning. CDOT will be setting up signage, barrels and barricades for the Cortland [Slow] Street starting 8AM on 6/12, with the [Slow] Street to open early next week.” The ward did not respond to a question about whether Rockwell, the stretch connecting Wabansia and Cortland, will be opening soon as well.

However, Friends of the Bloomingdale Trail announced this afternoon that installation will begin on the entire “Alt-Bloomingdale” corridor, including short stretches on Marshfield and Cortland Streets to Ashland.

The Leland Slow Street. Photo: John Greenfield
The Leland Slow Street. Photo: John Greenfield

In an email to constituents, Hopkins noted that “[Slow] Streets are part of the city’s COVID-19 response to facilitate moving around while maintaining proper physical distancing. Shared Streets allow residents to walk, bike, and run in the street.” The alderman explained that while through traffic is banned on Slow Streets, and motorists must stop for pedestrians using the roadway, parking, deliveries, pickups and drop-offs, and, of course, emergency vehicles are allowed.

Hopkins added that people using Wabansia for transportation or recreation are required to follow social distancing rules by maintaining 6-foot-plus distance from non-household members and/or wearing masks, and not congregating. Like other Chicago Slow Streets, it will be open for 30 days on a trial basis, after which a decision will be made on whether to extend the initiative for another month, based on community feedback, data, and observations by city staff.

“CDOT has been working with numerous Aldermen to make the Cortland shared street a reality and to ensure that the odd ward boundaries do not not result in inadequate Slow Street planning. CDOT will be setting up signage, barrels and barricades for the Cortland Shared Street starting 8AM on 6/12, with the Shared Street to open early next week”.

Here are all the Slow Streets corridors that appear to be in the works, based on CDOT’s permits map.

  • The Glenwood/Greenview Greenway from Carmen Avenue to Howard Street (Back-burnered in the wake of the George Floyd protests, concerns about a proposal to strip parking, according to 48th Ward alderman Harry Osterman)
  • Leland Avenue from Lincoln Avenue to Clark Street (Currently in effect)
  • Roscoe Street from Narragansett to Milwaukee Avenue
  • Palmer Street between Long Avenue and Kedzie Boulevard (35th Ward community input process underway)
  • Cortland Avenue from Ridgeway Avenue to Rockwell Avenue
  • Rockwell Avenue from Cortland to Wabansia Street
  • Wabansia from Rockwell to Ashland Avenue
  • Wood Street from North Avenue to Cortland

CDOT didn’t have an immediate statement about Wabansia or any other proposed Slow Streets, but a city official indicated that the department is in talks with South Side aldermen over additional routes.

Streetsbog reached out to all the other potentially impacted wards — here are a few other quick updates.

30th Ward, Alderman Ariel Reboyras

“I do believe that Alderman Reboyras and [36th Ward] Alderman Villegas will probably follow Alderman Rosa in getting community input,” said 30th Ward assistant Lois Planhaber. “Alderman Reboyras is a biking enthusiast, a member of [the Active Transportation Alliance], and worked with former aldermen on safe streets when these ideas first come up several years ago.”

32nd Ward, Alderman Scott Wagespack

“We are working with CDOT on Cortland/Wabansia,” the ward said in a statement. “There is no set date for installation, but we hear it could be soon. We understand there is a proposal for Palmer, of which we have only a small segment. We do not know where that stands. We have also discussed some other possibilities, but they are in the earlier planning stages.”

40th Ward , Alderman Andres Vasquez

Vasquez recently discussed the possibility of extending the Leland Greenway west of Western Avenue to Virginia Avenue, by the Chicago River, in his ward, as well as possible walk, bike, and/or cafe interventions on Balmoral, Catalpa, and Berwyn avenues. It seems likely that the latter would be pedestrianizing side streets off of Andersonville’s Clark Street retail strip to make room for socially-distanced outdoor dining, but the alderman declined to confirm that. “Currently we are only talking to CDOT to see what they would see no conflicts with. Then we would look at what community meetings to schedule based on what’s possible. So this is extremely preliminary.”`

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