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Ald. Pawar Reveals $1.3 Million in Infrastructure Projects for 2013

 Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th) explains the improvement projects his office will fund in 2013.
Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th) explains the improvement projects his office will fund in 2013.
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DNAinfo/Patty Wetli

LINCOLN SQUARE — The people have spoken — and they are getting a crosswalk countdown signal at Western and Sunnyside avenues, just one of the infrastructure projects Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th) announced he intends to fund in 2013.

With $1.3 million in discretionary funds at his disposal and $6 million in proposed infrastructure upgrade requests, Pawar surveyed residents to prioritize projects, with more than 1,500 voting online.

Members of his staff then independently assessed where need was greatest and combined that information with data collected from the 311 system.

The final list of projects to be funded this year was revealed Tuesday night at the alderman's Ward Council meeting, held at Bethany Retirement Community.

Street resurfacing, which costs approximately $65,000 per residential block, has been approved for the 4900 block of North Ravenswood Avenue, the 3700 block of North Ravenswood, the 2400 block of West Sunnyside Avenue and 1600-1800 W. Berteau Ave.

A former bus turnaround at 4600 N. Ravenswood Ave. will be converted into 50 non-metered diagonal parking spaces.

Pedestrian safety measures include the aforementioned countdown signal, which will benefit Queen of Angels school and church, as well as neighbors crossing Western Avenue to reach Welles Park.

A pedestrian island will be constructed at the awkward intersection of Leland and Lincoln avenues, as well as at Cornelia and Western avenues, the latter in response to safety concerns expressed by the Lane Tech High School community.

Alleys were identified as a top concern of residents in a preliminary list of potential menu projects, and several made the final cut, including alleys in the 4500 block of North Paulina Street and the 5000 block of North Claremont Avenue.

Though alleys are currently slated for asphalt resurfacing, further examination by the Chicago Department of Transportation might call for a change in plans, said Bill Higgins, program analyst and coordinator in the 47th Ward Office.

"Alleys are a big source of flooding," Higgins said. If one of the alleys chosen for resurfacing ends up being one where significant flooding occurs, the city might require a "green" alley with permeable pavement to provide better drainage.

The cost difference is significant — $35,000 for a standard alley vs. $180,000 for a green alley — meaning Pawar's list of projects is not set in stone. If some projects cost more than estimated, others will fall by the wayside, to be revisited in 2014, he said.

Residents at Tuesday's meeting asked whether crumbling curb ramps, installed per the American Disabilities Act, will be considered for future repairs.

Pawar said he intended to hold the contractor responsible for replacing the deteriorating ramps.

"It was an unfunded mandate" and done on the cheap, he said. "We ended up with some really terrible work."

The complete survey results and list of projects funded for 2013 can be found on the 47th Ward's website.