JEFFERSON PARK — One of the most dangerous stretches of road on the Far Northwest Side will get a new crosswalk, Ald. John Arena (45th) said.
Plans to install a pedestrian crosswalk and traffic signal outside the Jefferson Park Transit Center will move forward as part of a federally funded effort to improve traffic along Milwaukee Avenue, Arena said in an email message to his constituents.
Initially, officials with the Chicago Department of Transportation rejected Arena's request for a crosswalk at 4917 N. Milwaukee Ave. because of a nearby alley.
Many pedestrians cross in the middle of the block to get to the Jefferson Park CTA Blue Line stop, or to board one of the many buses at the station. That makes it a dangerous intersection and a frequent location for car, bike and pedestrian crashes, officials said.
In May, voters in the 45th Ward listed a new signal for that stretch of Milwaukee Avenue among their highest priorities, agreeing to spend $125,000 of Arena's $1.3 million 2013 discretionary budget as part of a participatory budgeting effort that took place in several wards.
Despite city officials' initial opposition to the crosswalk and signal, Arena said they had agreed to include it in a larger project — paid for with federal money — scheduled for 2014 that is designed to improve the flow of vehicular and bicycle traffic along Milwaukee Avenue.
"In other words, we'll be able to get the signal installed using federal money, not local infrastructure funds, although the work won't be done until 2014," Arena wrote.
Work is also progressing on a plan to spend $120,000 to wash, paint and add pigeon netting to viaducts and underpasses throughout the ward, which was the top vote-getter in the participatory budgeting process.
Arena said his office was still discussing the final price of the project with city transportation officials.
In addition, construction should start in the next several weeks on the installation of an artificial turf play surface at Beaubien Elementary School, 5025 N. Laramie Ave. In May, Chicago Public Schools announced Beaubien would get a new playground in addition to the new turf.
"This is a great example of how the participatory budgeting process can result in some fantastic partnerships that bring additional investment to our community," Arena wrote.
Also awaiting final cost estimates from city transportation officials is a $23,000 project to clean, paint and add lighting to the viaduct under the Union Pacific Railroad Tracks on Milwaukee Avenue north of the Jefferson Park Transit Center, Arena said.
Planning is underway for the 2014 participatory budget process. Preliminary meetings are expected to be held later this month.
For more information, call the 45th Ward office at 773-286-4545 or email Owen Brugh email@example.com.