CDOT Unveils Master Plan: Western Avenue Overpass Must Go

By Patty Wetli | Monday, May 14, 2012

Chicago’s $500 billion regional economy is the fourth-largest in the world. But when it comes to congestion and hit-and-run crashes we’re Second City to no one. Woo-hoo!

What this means for the Chicago Department of Transportation, which unveiled its Chicago Forward master plan last week: an emphasis on increased safety and efficiency to better serve Chicagoans and fuel economic growth. The 100-page document, which we waded through so you don’t have to, contains a number of initiatives likely to have an effect on residents living in RVJ territory, from large-scale public works projects to small shifts in behavior.

Under the category of “Rebuild and Renew,” CDOT reaffirmed its commitment to removing the Western Avenue overpass at Belmont (page 32), characterized as “obsolete and costly to maintain,” and vowed to replace it with an “attractive, modernized intersection that meets Complete Street standards.” Complete Street is CDOT lingo for thoroughfares that encourage walking, biking and transit. Chicago Forward being the urban planning equivalent of a commencement speech — “Reach for the stars!” — no specific timetable was provided.

Protected bikeways, including a new buffered lane on Roscoe Street, are simultaneously aimed at addressing congestion (fewer cars on the roads) and safety (fewer automobile-cyclist collisions). Similarly, CDOT’s plan to install 300 pedestrian countdown signals at intersections should knock Chicago down a peg or two in the hit-and-run rankings, what with pedestrians typically struck while playing a game of “I have no idea when the ‘don’t walk’ started flashing, but I’m gonna make a break for it anyway.”

A parklet planned for Lincoln Avenue
, outside of Heritage Bicycles, 2959 N. Lincoln Ave., is part of CDOT’s Make Way for People program, built around the notion that neighborhoods are more liveable when people have greater access to open space.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/josh.kilroy Josh Kilroy

    Anytime they do something right, like the overpass, they soon correct their “mistake.”

    • http://www.stevevance.net/ Steven Vance

      What are you saying? That after they remove the overpass, CDOT will build a replacement one later?

      • harryhamlinpark

        I think Josh is saying that the overpass is a good thing. But I’m just guessing…

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/N24OZALTI2DLI2JZ5PQTNDJTKU Jim

    the only part of a western commute that isnt stop and go, mostly stop is going to go away?  guess we will all be going so slow on western we wont have to worry about speed cameras.

  • http://twitter.com/billschutte Bill Schutte


  • AMR2012

    The overpass is a great thing.  Who wants to stop at a stop light when you don’t have to?!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001114336744 Bryan Cassidy

    Just moved to the area, but, I have hated that thing from day one. First, it is HIDEOUS and for that reason alone it should be removed. Got a problem stopping at Red lights? Get off the road and never come outside or stay on your block and never leave.

  • SteveWagner

    Sounds good! Hopefully we can turn this into another extremely functional intersection like Damen/Elston/Fullerton.

    • Mitchell Brown

      So, you LIKE the overpass? (are you one of those folks who thinks the city should do whatever it can to accommodate drivers? single drivers in cars?)

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  • Mitchell Brown

    I’m curious about the “Open Space” argument. How much “open space” does Rome have? Florence? Amsterdam? Prague? We make these poorly planned “green” spaces in a dense urban environment when what we actually need, as a city, is well thought out, classically designed hardscape. This goes double for these “parklets.”

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