WICKER PARK — Work has started at last to improve an intersection residents and leaders have long called dangerous for the odd alignment of the streets, lack of clear pedestrian signs and hard-to-see traffic lights.
Raymond Valadez, chief of staff for 1st Ward Ald. Joe Moreno, said the makeover of Milwaukee Avenue, Wolcott Avenue and Wood Street intersection was scheduled to be completed in June.
Valadez said the office had not been notified of any road closures due to the revamp, but there would be barricades to protect pedestrians and steer traffic away from construction.
The project has had a number of false starts, with the work originally slated to begin in the fall of 2012. Workers started marking the street and spraying pavement before design work in September, but the intersection had since remained unchanged.
Moreno spokesman Matt Bailey previously called the intersection "a total relic and palpably dangerous" and said residents had been asking for it to be fixed for at least a decade.
A Chicago Transportation Department crash analysis of a milelong stretch of Milwaukee Avenue between Wood Street and Augusta Avenue showed 196 total crashes between 2007 and 2011, with 50 occurring at the intersection of Wolcott and Milwaukee avenues.
All but one of those 50 crashes involved pedestrians or cyclists, according to the report.
The new design calls for a traditional four-way intersection with traffic signals and pedestrian crosswalks on all four corners.
The city had said contractor City Lights Ltd. was hired to do the work, which was expected to cost $300,000 and be funded through the Illinois Department of Transportation, Special Service Area taxpayer district No. 33, and 1st Ward menu funds.
The property tax levy contributed to the design work, but SSA No. 33 won't be contributing more funding, said Jessica Wobbekind, spokeswoman for the Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce SSA.
The intersection was slated to be one of 13 locations getting an update through a $3 million CDOT traffic signal modernization project, CDOT spokesman Pete Scales said last year.