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Damen, Elston, Fullerton Remake Begins in June, Chick-Fil-A in 2017?

By Alisa Hauser | May 12, 2015 9:41am

Bucktown's Damen, Elston and Fullerton intersection has one of the highest crash rates in the city, according to CDOT [DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser]

BUCKTOWN — Work on the dangerous and oft-clogged Damen, Fullerton and Elston intersection makeover could start in June. And while parts of the project — such as the rerouting of Elston Avenue — will be completed by next spring, construction will continue through the end of next year, CDOT officials said on Tuesday.

From late May through the end of July, traffic will be reduced to one lane in each direction on Damen and Fullerton Avenues, with more intermittent lane closures to occur through the end of 2016.

Elston Avenue will be reduced to one lane in either direction until the new alignment of Elston Avenue fully opens to traffic next spring, said Michael Claffey, a CDOT spokesman.

Once open, the new Elston Avenue will bypass the current intersection and cross Fullerton about one block east of the current intersection, according to renderings.

An aerial view of the existing Damen, Elston and Fullerton intersection remake. [Courtesy of CDOT]

An aerial view of what the Damen, Elston and Fullerton intersection will look like when the remake is completed at the end of 2016. [Courtesy of CDOT]

During the construction, motorists will be advised by CDOT to take other routes, using Ashland and Clybourn avenues as alternatives for Damen and Elston and Diversey Parkway or North Avenue as an alternative to Fullerton Avenue.

"Bikes will be sharing the road with cars and pedestrians will be able to pass through [during the construction]," Claffey said.

Claffey was unable to confirm where the lane closures would begin and end but said those details would be announced later this month before the project starts.

Alisa Hauser says it could be a traffic disaster during construction:

The rerouting of Elston Avenue will lessen the impact of traffic at the intersection, which sees 70,000 vehicles a day and consistently ranks in the top five intersections for the most traffic accidents each year.

Waits to make a turn at the intersection can be as long as seven minutes, city officials said back in 2011, when the $36.3 million reconfiguration was announced.

The massive project has impacted several companies and required the city to execute eminent domain for properties that will be demolished because the newly rerouted Elston Avenue will run through the former sites.

Whirlyball moved to a larger facility at 1823 W. Webster Ave. in December.

The Vienna Beef factory, in the process of relocating to 1000 W. Pershing Rd. in Bridgeport, is seeking the city's support on redevelopment plans for its soon-to-be former plant.

A proposal for the massive Vienna Beef site includes a not-yet-announced grocery store, retail storefronts and a 4,000 square-foot Chick-Fil-A restaurant to open in 2017 after construction is completed,  according to Paul Sajovec, a spokesman for Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd).

A spokesman for the redevelopment declined to answer questions. A community meeting for residents and business owners to share feedback on the proposed redevelopment is set for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Vienna Beef Factory store, 2501 N. Damen Ave. View the plans here.

After many delays — initially the intersection remake was scheduled to be done by the end of this year — Sajovec exercised caution in discussing timelines.

"Starting [for CDOT] could mean a lot of things. They still have some demolition to do that they had planned to have done by the end of the year. It could be more preparation as opposed to full on construction," Sajovec said.

The largest benefit, from a safety perspective, will be that Elston Avenue will no longer cut through Damen Avenue, just a few car lengths north of Fullerton. The two traffic lights and warning of "oncoming traffic has a longer green" in close proximity have confused and perplexed drivers and cyclists for years.

Claffey said that the complete reconstruction and redesign of this intersection will "provide major improvements for everyone who travels through the area."

Additionally, Damen Avenue will be widened, along with a sidewalk along the north side of Fullerton  Avenue that is currently very narrow. 

All of the streets will be resurfaced within the project limits, Claffey added.

A rendering of the rerouted Elston Avenue [Courtesy of CDOT]

An "after" rendering of the Damen and Elston Fullerton intersection and a current view. [CDOT/rendering; DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser]

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