WEST RIDGE — A three-lane stretch of Howard Street between Western and Ridge avenues could be rearranged into two lanes with two bike lanes under a plan proposed by officials from Chicago and Evanston to improve the North Side thoroughfare.
This month, 50th Ward Ald. Debra Silverstein and 49th Ward Ald. Joe Moore joined officials from Evanston and both cities' traffic and planning departments to present residents with potential upgrades to the street to make it safer for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers, as well as make it more aesthetically pleasing.
Among the proposed changes is the reconfiguration of a short jaunt of Howard between Ridge and Western, which now has two westbound lanes and one lane heading east, as well as a 10-foot lane.
One idea for the roadway saw the removal of one of the westbound lanes, a 1-foot reduction in the east lane, and a 3-foot reduction in the parking lane, which made room for two, 5-foot-wide bike lanes on each side of the road. Another iteration of that plan called for buffered bike lanes.
Buffered bike lanes were also proposed between Ridge and Winchester.
Other possible lane improvements included the roadway between Sacramento and Western. That option would increase the road's two lanes by two feet, while reducing parking lanes on each side by the same amount.
The option to keep the roads as they are was also offered.
Designs for streetscapes, which would add features such as benches, trash cans, lights and trees, were envisioned between California and Washtenaw, and Ridge to Winchester.
Eight intersections were highlighted for improved pedestrian walkways, such as crosswalks and signage: Francisco, Washtenaw, Rockwell, Maplewood, Hoyne, Seeley, Winchester and the McDonald's between Western and Ridge.
The project is being separated into three phases and rolled out over the next three years.
Phase 1, happening now, includes facilitating studies, putting together committees and gathering public feedback. Its $300,000 cost is being shouldered by Evanston.
The next segment of the project is slated for 2018 and will focus on finalizing construction plans, while installation of the changes is expected in 2019.
The second and last legs of the project will see the majority of funding from federal sources, with Chicago and Evanston each paying about 30 percent of the costs, or $90,000 each.
Groups taking part in the project includes the Department of Transportation at city and state levels and an advisory committee consisting of Chicago and Evanston city officials, business owners and engineers.