NORWOOD PARK — The old cliche about Chicago having only two seasons — winter and construction — has never been more true for drivers throughout the Far Northwest Side.
Several major construction projects have snarled traffic near the Kennedy Expressway, choking alternatives many residents use to avoid the highway, which often resembles a parking lot during rush hour.
Crews are working to repave Higgins Avenue near Foster Avenue as well as Nagle Avenue from Northwest Highway to Gunnison Street. While that work is almost complete, several other projects are on tap.
While workers repave Harlem Avenue from Higgins Avenue to Howard Street, crews will also repair curbs and gutters and clear out catch basins. Although some of the $2.3 million project will be completed during the evening to avoid snarling traffic, some lanes will be closed temporarily, according to an email from Ald. Mary O'Connor (41st).
The projects are necessary to improve the ward's infrastructure, O'Connor said.
At the same time, Cumberland Avenue from Balmoral Avenue to Higgins Road will be completely widened and resurfaced. The $24 million project includes a widening of the Cumberland bridge over the Kennedy to three lanes in each direction including two left-turn lanes.
Plans also call for installation of seven modernized traffic signals, new light poles and a new drainage system.
A new pedestrian crosswalk will be built at Cumberland and Higgins, as well as a new sidewalk on Higgins to improve pedestrian safety.
Work is also under way on a $6 million project to improve at the railroad crossing at Nagle Avenue and Northwest Highway, long known as one of the most dangerous crossings in the state, O'Connor said.
The effort is designed to sync the crossing's gates and signal systems with the traffic lights along Northwest Highway. Safer pedestrian gates and a gas-powered generator designed to ensure the gates continue to function in the event of a power outage will also be installed.
The Department of Water Management is also working to replace water mains along East Circle and West Circle. Work has been completed on East Circle between Nicolet and Nickerson avenues, while new pipes were scheduled to be installed between Nickerson and Nina avenues starting this week.
A new water main is also being installed along Thorndale Avenue near East Circle.
More construction projects are on the horizon, as well.
East River Road will be resurfaced, as will Foster Avenue from Harlem Avenue to Ashland Avenue. It is not clear when those projects will start, O'Connor said.