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City to Reconfigure Dangerous Damen-Elston-Fullerton Intersection Next Year

By Alisa Hauser | April 10, 2013 5:07pm | Updated on April 10, 2013 5:15pm

BUCKTOWN — A busy six-way intersection plagued by congestion and accidents will be getting a makeover to improve traffic flow and safety, city officials announced Wednesday.

Work is expected to begin next year on "reconfiguring" a six-way intersection at Damen, Elston and Fullerton avenues, which sees 70,000 vehicles a day and consistently ranks in the top five intersections for the most traffic accidents each year.

Waits to make a turn at the intersection can be as long as seven minutes, city officials said in a news release.

Work on the $36.3 million project is expected to be completed by December 2015, officials said.

The project, which has been in the city's pipeline since 2002, is also expected to create 100 construction jobs and spur economic development in the Elston corridor, since Elston Avenue will be expanded to the north and west of the current intersection, official said.

To make the project possible, the city submitted a proposal to the City Council to acquire a total of nine parcels of land.

The properties are located between 1875-2002 W. Fullerton Ave., 2357-2501 N. Damen and 2301-2447 N. Elston Ave., and fall within or adjacent to the North Branch Tax Increment Financing District. About $27 million in TIF funds would be used to acquire the properties and complete design work for the reconfiguration.

"Companies that would be impacted by the intersection improvements are already working with the city on their individual relocation needs and the city is committed to ensuring that all companies in the area are able to continue to conduct business as these essential improvements take place," the statement said.

Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd) wrote on his website that the "proposed project will significantly improve traffic safety and capacity and involves the acquisition of only a handful of properties and no displacement of any existing residences."

Plans for the intersection include "making right-of-way improvements that eliminate or ameliorate traffic congestion and improve the synchronization of traffic signalization."

He said the project will "create greater spacing between intersections with Fullerton and Damen Avenues" and "realign skewed intersections."

Waguespack's website offered further details, with new protected bike lanes planned for Elston Avenue including two-foot wide barriers, two new traffic signals and a new bidirectional turn lane.