ROSCOE VILLAGE — After years of delay, the Chicago Department of Transportation is finally charging ahead with the demolition of the deteriorating overpass at Western and Belmont avenues.
The viaduct's date with the wrecking ball has been set for March 1, with preliminary construction work already under way.
Western Avenue will be reduced to a single lane in each direction between George and Roscoe streets.
Demolition of the viaduct is the most dramatic component of CDOT's "Western Avenue Corridor Improvement Plan."
The overpass at Western-Belmont-Clybourn, which opened in 1962 as a way to ease congestion around the now defunct Riverview Amusement Park, will be replaced with a five-leg, grade-level intersection.
An estimated 35,000 cars use the overpass daily, and it shows.
A 2012 inspection deemed the viaduct "structurally deficient" — a term that doesn't necessarily relate to safety, but may instead refer to speed, weight or volume limitations. Overall, the evaluation found the overpass to be of "minimum adequacy to be left in place."
The project's scope will encompass not only demolition of the bridge, but reconstruction of the Western Avenue bridge over the Chicago River, as well as reconstruction/resurfacing of Western Avenue between Waveland Avenue to the north and Jones Street to the south (Jones is south of Diversey).
For drivers: A third lane of travel will be added during peak hours and the plan provides for 80 new on-street parking spaces.
For pedestrians: Sidewalks will be widened to 13 feet, countdown signals will be installed at intersections and pedestrian refuge islands will be built at unsignalized crossings.
Here's the timetable:
• Stage One, four months: overpass removal, replacement of the Western Avenue bridge over the Chicago River, reconstruction of Western Avenue between the bridge and Roscoe Street.
• Stages Two and Three, eight months: reconstruction of the Western-Belmont-Clybourn intersection, resurfacing of Western from Waveland to Jones, traffic signal improvements, sidewalk widening and reconstruction.
• Stages Four and Five, four months: median construction, landscaping and parkway improvements.
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