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CDOT wants input on project to make the heart of Englewood safer and more vibrant

63rd and Halsted in Englewood, looking south. Image: Google Maps

The Chicago Department of Transportation has launched the planning process for a streetscape project on 63rd and Halsted streets in Englewood, with the goal of creating "safe, walkable, and attractive streets that will foster community and economic growth," in the long-underserved community. They're seeking public input on the initiative via a community survey and community meetings.

The project schedule.
The project schedule.
The project schedule.

The project area includes 63rd from Loomis Boulevard (1400W.) to Wallace Avenue (600 W.), and Halsted between 59th and 66th streets. This location is one of 12 commercial corridors in 10 communities that are the focus of Chicago's INVEST South/West program, with the aim of re-activating "neighborhood cores that have historically served as focal points for pedestrian activity, shopping, services, transportation, public spaces and quality-of life amenities for local residents."

Pedestrian counts along the corridor.
Pedestrian counts along the corridor.
Pedestrian counts along the corridor.

CDOT and local aldermen Stephanie Coleman (16th) and Jeanette Taylor (20th) hosted an online community meeting on the project on August 18. Transportation department program director Lubka Benak and project manager Camille Applewhite led the discussion. Consultants for the project include Jacobs, the prime engineer; Site Design Group, the landscape architect; Blue Daring, public outreach assistance; CKL, sub-engineering; DB Sterlin, survey data; Fish Transportation Group, traffic data; Wang engineering, geotechnical; and local artist Jerrold “Just Flo” Anderson.

Potential aspects of the streetscape project include:

    • Roadway geometry and intersection improvements
    • Full width resurfacing
    • Drainage improvements
    • Sidewalk, curb, and gutter
    • Curb extensions
    • ADA ramps and crosswalks
    • Continuation of Street lighting
    • Traffic signal upgrades
    • Improved pavement markings and signage
    • Potential paver parkways
    • Side street improvements to the alleys as needed
    • Site furniture and potential seating areas
    • Light pole identifiers
    • Gateway identifier
    • Tree planting and potential landscaping
    • Renovation of Englewood Plaza

During the presentation the CDOT planners discussed current conditions in the project area. They noted that there are many vacant lots on the west end of 63rd Street, and the sidewalk widths and the presence of street trees are inconsistent. There are no bike lanes, sidewalk bump-outs for safer pedestrian crossings, or high-visibility crosswalks on 63rd, and wheelchair ramps may not be in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. On-street parking gets fairly heavy use.

Halsted has bike lanes, but high speeds due to the wide street layout with four travel lanes.
Halsted has bike lanes, but high speeds due to the wide street layout with four travel lanes.
Halsted has bike lanes, but high speeds due to the wide street layout with four travel lanes.

Meanwhile on Halsted there are high traffic speeds, which isn't surprising because it's a wide, four-lane street. There are bike lane from 65th to 63rd, but some intersections lack high-visibility crosswalks, and there are no bump-outs. On-street parking gets little use due to the presence of parking lots, several of which are not compliant with the city's landscape ordinance. There are landscaped medians, but the street trees are inconsistent.

At the end of the meeting, participants were surveyed on which of three potential streetscape design schemes they favor: "Playful/Active," "Traditional/Historic," or "Modern/Contemporary." They were also asked, "How would you like to use the outdoor space at 63rd Street Plaza?" and "What are the best features along 63rd Street and Halsted Street?"

Examples of "Playful/Active" streetscape design.
Examples of "Playful/Active" streetscape design.
Examples of "Playful/Active" streetscape design.

People who live, work, and/or visit in Englewood are also asked to fill out the short online community survey about what they'd like to see from the streetscape project.

Hopefully the Englewood streetscape project will end up being a successful example of how making the built environment of a retail corridor a safer and more pleasant place to walk, bike, ride transit (the 63rd/Halsted Green Line station is just south of the corridor), and shop can foster a most peaceful, prosperous, and vibrant community.

Check out the August 18 presentation here. Additional community meetings will be held this fall and next winter or spring.

Watch a video of the meeting here.

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