CHICAGO — Cook County officials have agreed to pay $75,000 for sidewalk extensions near Hitch Elementary School, adding a safety improvement long demanded by parents, officials announced Thursday.
The extensions, known as "bump-outs," would cut the crossing distance for students and teachers who traverse the busy intersection of Austin and Bryn Mawr avenues on their way to school at 5625 N. McVicker Ave. every morning.
The project was approved during last Wednesday's meeting of the Cook County Board, commissioner Bridget Gainer told DNAinfo Thursday. The project uses a chunk of Gainer's annual budget for transportation funding in her district, which spans 10 wards from Lincoln Park to Jefferson Park.
"There are 300,000 people living in my district, so we're looking for the highest-impact projects with the most community buy-in, that are ready to go," Gainer said. "There's been a focus in [Jefferson Park] on creating more walkable streets, and Hitch has been on people's minds of a long time."
"We know there are lots of kids walking there every day, so instead of waiting for something bad to happen and reacting, we're trying to be proactive," she added.
Arena created a Facebook event for a "town hall" presentation to unveil the project, set for 6 p.m. on Monday at the school.
In the event description, Arena wrote that his staff hears "numerous complaints about people speeding through" the school zone, adding that Hitch is the "perfect candidate for this project due to the heavy motorist and pedestrian traffic."
John Garrido, a community representative on the school's Local School Council, welcomed the announcement, he said Thursday.
The council "is thankful to commissioner Bridget Gainer for working hard to allocate the funds necessary to make this crossing safer for our students," according to Garrido, who twice ran for alderman against Arena.
Officials are pushing for the bump-outs to be completed by the end of the year, Gainer said.