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Data Shows Manor Diverter Kinda, Sorta Worked, But It's Still Dead

By Patty Wetli | January 31, 2017 5:09am
 Manor Diverter Data presentation
Manor Diverter Data
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RAVENSWOOD MANOR — Making good on a pledge from last fall, Ald. Deb Mell (33rd) and representatives from the Chicago Department of Transportation recently presented traffic data collected during the ill-fated Manor diverter trial.

The much maligned diverter pilot — which forced through-traffic off of Manor Avenue at Wilson Avenue and prohibited cars on Wilson from turning onto Manor — ran from Sept. 19 through Oct. 28.

The diverter was proposed as a way to make Manor Avenue safer for pedestrians and cyclists, particularly with Manor designated as a riverfront bike path connector between Horner Park at the south end and Ronan Park at the north.

Mell cut the test short by more than two weeks in the face of sustained opposition from neighbors.

Many of those same critics turned up at Thursday's meeting of the ward's Transportation Action Committee, where the transportation department revealed the results of two rounds of data collection conducted during the trial. (See data slides below.)

The numbers, drawn from mechanical and physical counts performed at 14 locations, indicated the diverter reduced the amount of cars on Manor Avenue during its peak usage hour by 30 percent on the stretch between Lawrence and Wilson and by 60 percent between Wilson and Montrose, according to David Smith, project manager with T. Y. Lin, which consulted on the diverter.

"So where did that traffic go? That's part of piecing this puzzle together," Smith said.

Some of the cars, the data showed, shifted to Sacramento and Francisco, though not as many as the city initially projected, he said.

On the other hand, Rockwell Street, on the east side of the Chicago River, experienced an increase in traffic that caught planners by surprise.

"That's something we honestly underestimated," Smith said.

Traffic cutting through alleys also jumped significantly in some instances.

During the diverter trial, overall traffic in Ravenswood Manor decreased 5 percent during morning rush hours and decreased 10 percent during evening rush hours, data showed.

At the intersection of Manor/Wilson/Mozart, traffic fell 20 percent during morning rush and dropped 17 percent during evening rush.

Neighbors disputed many of the numbers presented, saying the data didn't match their personal experiences of significant traffic back-ups, particularly on Wilson and Francisco, during the trial.

Smith acknowledged that the pilot's premature conclusion meant a planned third round of data collection never happened.

Still, the data "will be very useful for future discussions about Manor," Smith said. "Having this information is positive for guiding future conversations."

At the mention of "future discussions" neighbors demanded to know whether Mell was considering reviving the diverter at some later date.

The alderman responded that the diverter was "really, really, really dead."

"You can have a funeral for the diverter," she said.