PORTAGE PARK — Crossing Irving Park Road near Portage Park will get a little easier with the installation of a pedestrian refuge island near Linder Avenue, Ald. Tim Cullerton (38th) said.
City traffic engineers approved Cullerton's request to spend $50,000 from the West Irving Park Tax Increment Financing District to build the refuge island at 5500 W. Irving Park Road, on the south side of Portage Park.
Although the project won't be completed until after Cullerton retires from the council in May, he said he was pleased that it is in the works.
There have been a number of "close calls" between cars whizzing east and west down Irving Park and pedestrians darting from the park to the XSports Fitness gym or the Portage Grounds coffee shop, Cullerton said.
Cars must yield to pedestrians in marked crosswalks under city law.
Tax-increment financing districts capture all growth in the property tax base in a designated area for a set period of time, usually 20 years or more, and divert it into a special fund for projects designed to spur redevelopment and eradicate blight.
As part of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's Complete Streets effort, which is designed to "ensure that everyone — pedestrians, transit users, bicyclists and motorists — can travel safely and comfortably along and across a street," pedestrian refuge islands have been built across Chicago, according to city officials.
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