LINCOLN SQUARE — The construction barrels are out, making it official: The Lawrence Avenue streetscape is finally happening.
Lane closures and street parking bans went into effect on the portion of Lawrence between Leavitt and Damen avenues on Monday, marking the first phase of the streetscape project, which eventually will run from Western Avenue to Clark Street.
The Western-to-Damen section of the streetscape is the most complicated from an engineering standpoint, as the Chicago Department of Transportation winnows the current four lanes of auto traffic to three.
The "road diet" — one lane in each direction for cars plus a center left-turn lane — has received mixed reviews from Lincoln Square business owners. But 47th Ward Ald. Ameya Pawar has praised the effort for its wider sidewalks and the addition of a full bike lane, making Lawrence Avenue more attractive to pedestrians, cyclists and the type of commercial activity more commonly found on Lincoln Avenue.
"When we look back at Lawrence three to four years from now, you won't even remember what it looked like," Pawar has said.
Illustrating his point: Roots Pizza announced plans to open a second location at 2200 W. Lawrence Ave. in the coming months, declaring the area "up and coming."
Phase 1 of the streetscape will encompass the Western-to-Damen stretch in 2013, according to CDOT. Phase 2, which extends the streetscape to Clark Street, will be completed next year.