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New Crosswalk at Jefferson Park Transit Center Delayed by Bike Lane Dispute

By Heather Cherone | November 10, 2014 5:58am
 A woman crosses Milwaukee Avenue in the middle of the block after leaving the Jefferson Park Transit Center. 
A woman crosses Milwaukee Avenue in the middle of the block after leaving the Jefferson Park Transit Center. 
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DNAinfo/Heather Cherone

JEFFERSON PARK — Efforts to install a new crosswalk in the middle of one of the most dangerous stretches of road on the Far Northwest Side have been delayed by a months-long dispute over bicycle lanes on Milwaukee Avenue, officials said.

A new crosswalk will be installed outside the Jefferson Park Transit Center as part of the CTA's four-year overhaul of the Blue Line, said Owen Brugh, chief of staff to Ald. John Arena (45th).

Pedestrians often dart across Milwaukee Avenue near Gale Street to hop on Metra trains, the Blue Line or one of a dozen bus lines to avoid walking a block to and from the nearest crosswalk. That forces them to dodge speeding cars and turning buses.

That makes it a dangerous intersection and a frequent location for car, bike and pedestrian crashes, officials said.

Plans for the crosswalk have been in the works since May 2013, when 45th Ward residents set aside $125,000 of Arena's discretionary budget for the project.

Officials with the Chicago Department of Transportation initially rejected Arena's request for a crosswalk at 4917 N. Milwaukee Ave., saying it would conflict with a nearby alley.

But the crosswalk was included in a federally funded $1.5 million project designed to improve traffic flow and reduce crashes along Milwaukee Avenue that had been set to start this year, Brugh said.

That plan, which includes a proposal to reduce Milwaukee from four lanes to two in order to create dedicated bicycle lanes, created a firestorm of controversy, delaying the project, Brugh said.

In effort to get the crosswalk project off the ground, CTA officials have agreed to include it in the agency's $492 million track and station rehabilitation project, which includes extensive work at the Jefferson Park station as part of an effort to shave 10 minutes off the "L" trip from Downtown to O'Hare, Brugh said.

Construction is now underway at the Damen Blue Line stop, which is scheduled to be closed for work until Dec. 22.

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