CHINATOWN — A busy stretch of Cermak Road has been highlighted by the City Council for its accessibility to pedestrians.
City Hall's designation of Cermak Road between Princeton and Wentworth avenues as a "pedestrian street" on Jan. 15 doesn't mean much in the short term — there won't be any signs added or new pedestrian improvements "but it does have effects on the future of the area," said Stacy Raker, a spokeswoman for Ald. Danny Solis (25th).
"For example, it prevents further driveways or curb cuts from going in, which maintains safety for pedestrians," she said.
Split by a decorative median, the four-lane stretch of Cermak is one of Chinatown's main drags, with stores and restaurants lining the street on either side. Soon, the southeast corner of Cermak Road and Princeton and Archer avenues will be home to a small hotel.
But the eastern tip of Cermak at Wentworth, with its unevenly configured four-way intersection and active Chicago Fire Department fire house, is problematic for motorists and pedestrians, often requiring the intervention of traffic safety officers to help navigate the scrum.
That's part of the reason the city's transportation department is looking to reconfigure the intersection. Raker said CDOT has completed a study of the area and will soon begin a project to realign and straighten Wentworth Avenue.
The work is expected to begin this fall and should make a dramatic difference at the intersection, which neighborhood leaders say has been an issue for years.
"Safety is the main issue. We have severe 90-degree turns going south right and left and going north right and left and that presents some serious problems for people crossing there and it affects automobiles," Solis said. "Secondly, it’s to connect the two Chinatowns that have been created since the development of Chinatown Square. I’d like to have a better flow and a more pleasing environment."