Colorful crosswalks coming to intersections by Rogers Park Metra stop

A decorative intersection design at Devon/Sacramento in West Ridge. Photo: John Greenfield
A decorative intersection design at Devon/Sacramento in West Ridge. Photo: John Greenfield

Update 8/12/21, 1:45 PM: In response to questions Streetsblog Chicago sent yesterday about why the intersection treatments are being done on Ravenswood Avenue instead of Clark Street, The Rogers Park Business Alliance provided the following statement:

The project is named as such due to being part of the Vision Clark Street Master Plan. RPBA selected these locations as part of the many proposed improvements of the Vision Clark Street Master Plan, which is an overarching project for not just Clark Street but also its adjacent area. The crosswalks are near the two entrances/exits to the [Rogers Park] Metra station and therefore [they have] a lot of foot and car traffic. It is also one of the local business owners’ concerns that cars drive down on these two streets too fast. Therefore, this part of the plan was created for the artwork to slow down traffic for this area. The received amount of grant was $10K, just enough for two small crosswalks which would make a bigger impact as opposed to one [larger crosswalk] on Clark St. In the past, RPBA has successfully installed banners, landscape, public art, on Clark Street, and will continue securing funding and resources to implement other components of the Vision Clark Street Master Plan, benefitting Clark Street and its neighboring streets.

The Rogers Park community will be receiving colorful new intersection treatments thanks to a 2021 AARP Community Challenge Grant. The Rogers Park Business Alliance applied and won funding on behalf of the Far North Side neighborhood. RPBA was one of 244 grantees nationwide to receive funding to help communities become great places to live for people of all ages.

The $10,000 grant will support a permanent placemaking and public art project, Cross the Street: Art on Clark, as part of the RPBA’s Vision Clark Street Master Plan, a plan aimed at increasing the vitality of the Clark corridor in Rogers Park.

Despite the title of the project, the decorative intersection treatments won’t actually be located on Clark, but rather a block west on Ravenswood Avenue at Lunt (7000 N.) and Greenleaf (7030 N.) avenues, at the south and north side Metra’s Rogers Park station on the Union Pacific North line. The treatments should be completed by December 2021.

Screen Shot 2021-08-11 at 12.21.01 PM
The Lunt/Ravenswood intersection. Image: Google Maps

The RPBA says it hopes the decorative crosswalks will “increase safety, provide a memorable personal experience of the area, decrease crime and enhance the commercial corridor overall.” The treatments have not been designed yet. The design will either be created by the Chicago Department of Transportation, or else a request for proposals from outside designers will be issued.

“This project will transform [two] nondescript intersections by installing vibrant art on the pavement of the crosswalks to instill a memorable personal connection for all, as they walk through the core community area in Rogers Park,” said Sandi Price, executive director of the business alliance, in a statement. “RPBA is currently seeking additional funding to implement art at all crosswalks in the Metra railway area in the Clark Street commercial core.”

Price added that the crosswalks are intended to “encourage people of all ages to slow down, engage with the businesses in the commercial district, look around, meet each other and experience nature and art. We hope this will build a feeling of economic vitality, warmth, safety and community,” according to Sandi Price, executive director of RPBA.

While this project will help liven up the sometimes-gloomy Ravenswood corner, if the intention was to increase pedestrian safety and encourage people to slow down and check out businesses on Clark, it’s puzzling why the decorative intersection treatments are going to relatively quiet side-street intersections instead of Clark itself. Putting the installations at Lunt/Clark and Greenleaf/Clark would be more beneficial in terms of raising drivers awareness of pedestrians crossing the arterial street and calming traffic, as well as drawing more attention to local merchants.

Greenleaf and Clark. Image: Google Maps
The busy Greenleaf/Clark intersection. Image: Google Maps

And it’s not like there’s no precedent for decorative intersections on business streets in Chicago. For example, in 2017 one was installed at the junction of busy Devon Street and Sacramento Avenue in West Ridge, as shown at the top of this post. Installation started on another intersection treatment at Clark and Chase Avenue (7030 N.) a few weeks ago and is currently still in process.

CDOT's design for Chase/Clark.
CDOT’s design for Chase/Clark.

A spokesperson for RPBA did not immediately reply to a question about why intersections on Ravenswood, rather than Clark were chosen for the new project.

The Rogers Park area has other streetscape improvements in the works. The Clark/Devon area will see widened sidewalks, a planted median, and ADA ramp upgrades, among other improvements

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