WEST RIDGE — The stretch of Howard Street that once housed the infamous "Berny's Wall" blocking Chicagoans from a Target in Evanston is getting some love this summer to ease traffic.
Chicago, Evanston and Skokie are teaming up to improve the often crippling Howard Street traffic between Sacramento and McCormick Boulevard. Howard is the border between Chicago and Evanston there. Skokie sits just to the west.
It's the same stretch of Howard Street that, in 1993, saw then-Ald. Bernard "Berny" Stone (50th) build a 2 1/2-foot-high guardrail down the middle of the street. Stone didn't want Evanston to build a shopping center there, so he erected the wall to keep people from the Chicago side of the street away from the center, and people from Evanston side away from his ward.
The wall came down after a year (and a court fight). The shopping center was built, and it now holds a Target, Best Buy, Jewel-Osco and Office Max.
The bitter "Berny's Wall" battle is part of the legacy of Stone, who was alderman for 38 years and died in 2014 at age 87.
Ald. Debra Silverstein (50th) is now the alderman, and she's working to make the stretch traffic friendly, including putting in a traffic signal at Sacramento and Howard. That intersection frequently sees near-crashes as people try to pull out of the Target/Best Buy parking lot to get onto busy Howard.
The project begins June 13 at Kedzie Avenue and Howard Street, where the traffic signal there will see modernization upgrades.
The area of Howard Street between Sacramento Avenue and the North Shore Channel bridge just before McCormick Boulevard will also be resurfaced along with improvements to sidewalks, Ald. Silverstein said in an email sent to residents.
Resurfacing should be complete by mid-August, while the project in its entirety is expected to be finished by the end of October, Silverstein said.
During construction, at least one lane in each direction will remain open.
The new traffic signal will be placed at Sacramento Avenue and Howard Street, where drivers currently trying to turn onto Howard Street often times experience long waits -- both on the Evanston side and the residential West Ridge side.
For more neighborhood news, listen to DNAinfo Radio here: