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Lawrence Avenue Updates: Construction Current and Future

By Samantha Abernethy | Thursday, January 13, 2011

Closed lanes on Lawrence Ave. near the Metra station could open up sooner than anticipated, but the new Lawrence streetscape plan could permanently narrow the street to three lanes between Ashland and Western avenues.

The current construction, the “Ravenswood Sewer Project,” on Lawrence and Hermitage avenues feels like it has been going on forever. The lanes on the south side of Lawrence Ave. have been closed, and the narrowing of the street has often led to some traffic back-ups at the bottleneck.

The Chicago Tribune reported Monday that the Lawrence streetscape project, slated to start in late 2011, would narrow Lawrence Ave. permanently to three lanes to slow car traffic and encourage foot traffic. From the article:

Removing one lane in each direction will make room for wider sidewalks to foster a more welcoming experience for pedestrians. In addition, a designated bike lane in each direction will be striped. In-street islands will be built along crosswalks to create a safe haven for people crossing streets. Other amenities will be added, including more than 150 trees, better lighting, benches and even enough space for sidewalk cafes, officials said.

Ald. Gene Schulter’s website states that his office is working with the Chicago Department of Transportation to finalize plans for the streetscape project, tentatively scheduled for fall 2011.

As for the Ravenswood Sewer Project, it’s been a year and a half—not forever—since it started. And now it looks like the project is actually moving along ahead of schedule, Schulter’s office confirmed.

The original timeline had slated the project to finish by summer 2011, said Schulter spokesman Rob Rawls. But now the lanes on Lawrence Ave. could be open by March.

The construction project was crucial to preventing the type of sinkhole that ravaged Montrose Ave. in 2008, Rawls said. The sewer was about 100 years old, the same as those that collapsed under Montrose.

“We do completely understand the huge burden this has placed on the residents in the area,” said Rawls.

Schulter’s office said in its weekly report that crews have completed excavation of the shaft at Lawrence and Hermitage, and are beginning work on the connection structure.

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  • Anonymous

    Appreciate the update. Although it has been a bit of an annoyance, glad that the project is ahead of schedule to finish. Also, looking forward to the impending reduction of lanes on Lawrence, as I believe it will add a lot to the neighborhood. Coupling that project with the updated Metra station and Sears Parking lot plans, that stretch of Lawrence will be unrecognizable in a couple years. Any updates on the Metra station? And for folks saying that traffic on Lawrence will be unbearable with the lane reduction…too bad this isn’t your neighborhood.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4FCVPPF22W7QFU2XTIGX5MZMUU Spyro

    It will be worth all the trouble. These projects improve quality of life. I hope they complete both Irving and Lawrence streetscapes all the way to the river in 2011.

    • Anonymous

      Yes ! To the river on Lawrence !

      • Anonymous

        & more trees Please.

  • Anonymous

    If you look at Lawrence west of Western, where it is two lanes, it has a tendency to be packed solid for blocks at many hours of the day. Reducing Lawrence from 4 lanes to 3 will stretch this gridlock all the way east to Ashland. Currently the traffic moves through at a pace with timed signal lights that allow for spaces in the traffic flow where it is easy for pedestrians to cross the street. My thoughts are to take out a lane off unused metered parking to create the extra space for the wider sidewalks and bike lanes. Most days blocks of metered parking on Lawrence go unused.

  • http://twitter.com/ChiSteven Steve

    @ ScottBloom — there is not much of a direct relation between more lanes and better traffic flow. It is all about the design of the stoplights, major intersections and other road features. Having another lane on Lawrence is not needed — its 5 mins to Lakeshore, accessible to Western and easy to get north and west on Lincoln and Foster.

    But — I do have to say I agree that traffic does get backed-up …. but with some adjustments in lights, stop signs, etc…it could work just fine I think.

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