CHINATOWN — Work is expected to begin soon on a few pedestrian-friendly makeovers to a busy neighborhood intersection.
Among the planned improvements at 24th Place and Canal Street are a sprucing up of the intersection's three virtually invisible crosswalks with brightly painted, thick barred crosswalk designs and new “Cross Traffic Does Not Stop” signage on existing stop signs.
The street markings will be completed in the spring and the new signage is expected to be installed "in the next few weeks, as our workload allows," said CDOT spokesman Peter Scales.
The planned work will also bring with it a crackdown on illegal parking near the intersection, which CDOT officials says limits visibility and hampers safety.
The upgrades were announced by Ald. Danny Solis (25th) and are part of the Chicago Department of Transportation pedestrian plan, which aims to overhaul the city's intersections for easier and safer pedestrian access.
A CDOT analysis of 2011 crash data revealed that 78 percent of all pedestrian crashes and 80 percent of fatal and serious injury crashes take place within 125 feet of an intersection. The majority of pedestrian-related crashes were caused by a motorist's failure to yield, the study showed.
At 24th Place and Canal Street, eight crashes were reported between 2009 and 2011, including a hit-and-run accident that damaged a nearby apartment complex, CDOT said. None involved pedestrians.
Still, the busy intersection has drawn safety concerns from residents who use the east-west 24th Place as a pathway to Chinatown's main drag.
The planned pedestrian improvements also mark the first step in what could be a transformation of parts of Canal Street into a bike-friendly corridor.
But those plans — which include trimming Canal Street to one lane from Harrison to 18th Street to accommodate dedicated parking and bicycle lanes — are in the early stages.
The idea is to "meet the 18th street protected bike lanes at Canal to better connect the Loop with bike facilities," with work on Canal south of 18th Street "at some later date," Scales said.