ROGERS PARK — Now that a major water main replacement snafu has ended and Touhy Avenue is preparing for resurfacing, long-awaited improvements to the busy roadway are finally on the way, Ald. Joe Moore (49th) told residents this week.
Upgrades to the "hazardous" intersection at Touhy, Ridge and Rogers avenues have been in the works for years, but ongoing water main and resurfacing projects have delayed the safety improvements 49th Ward residents allocated money for in 2011 through participatory budgeting.
However, because the construction also coincides with the state's Ridge Avenue resurfacing project, the $75,000 residents approved for the changes using city funds may no longer be needed, Moore said.
Instead, the intersection improvements will be funded through the Illinois Department of Transportation's Ridge resurfacing budget. The $75,000 residents voted to set aside can be used to improve the intersection in other ways, or be used for other projects in the neighborhood.
Part of the revamped features of the intersection include a curb extension at the southwest corner of Touhy and Rogers which would shorten the crosswalk there from 110 feet to 40 feet, adding left turn only lanes headed east on Touhy and west on Rogers at Ridge, and installing a right turn only lane heading west on Touhy at Ridge.
The turn-only lanes will help reduce congestion and improve traffic flow across Ridge, Moore said.
Timing at stop lights at Touhy and Ridge have already been changed by the Chicago Department of Transportation after a series of community meetings in recent years, which garnered feedback on the city's plans, according to the alderman.
Moore also said CDOT engineers believe a traffic light once proposed at Rogers and Touhy may no longer be necessary after other changes at the intersection are carried out, but that the "engineers will continue to monitor traffic flow at the intersection after the improvements are made and report back to me and the community."
New traffic signals can cost more than $250,000, Moore said, so if one was needed, the $75,000 in ward money could be put toward the expense, but more funding would have to be found.
The curb extensions and lane changes should be complete by the year's end, Moore said.
At 7 p.m. on Oct. 11, CDOT engineers will also be holding a meeting with Moore's office at the Pottawattomie Park Fieldhouse, 7340 N. Rogers Ave., to give residents more information, including an updated construction timeline.
Last year, Moore said if the intersection had been built today, it would not be designed in a way that would have the same unique challenges it poses to traffic and pedestrians today.
Rogers Avenue was used as an ancient trail by Native Americans in the area, and in August 1816 was designated as the Indian Boundary Line between white settlers and the Ojibwa, Ottawa and Pottawatomie tribes by the Treaty of St. Louis, according to the Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society.
It was later named after Philip Rogers, the man for whom the Rogers Park neighborhood is also named.