NORTH CENTER — One of North Center’s busiest intersections is getting a redesign next year, and Ald. Matt Martin (47th) is asking neighbors to weigh in on the final concepts.
The six-way intersection at Irving Park Road, Lincoln Avenue and Damen Avenue has had 47 crashes since 2020, according to data from Martin’s office.
“This [intersection] is very much one of the heartbeats of our community, but also from a traffic and transportation standpoint, one that has presented and continues to present a lot of challenges,” Martin said.
Neighbors got a first look at potential redesigns Wednesday. Both would adjust the traffic flow and add infrastructure improvements to Lincoln and Damen, which are both city-owned roads, Martin said.
Both concepts would add more pedestrian and bicyclist safety improvements on Damen and Lincoln, but one design would eliminate the left-turn lanes from Damen onto Irving Park, said Kurt Facknitz, complete streets design manager for the Chicago Department of Transportation.
“This is where you’ll see the most difference between the two concepts,” Facknitz said.
There would be no immediate improvements to Irving Park Road, which is a state road, Martin said.
Here’s more on each plan:
The first design would remove the left turn from Damen onto Irving Park.
It would maintain street parking on both sides of the street and allow for the installation of a parking protected bike lane on the east side of the street approaching Irving Park, Facknitz said.
The redesign would also allow for a massive expansion of pedestrian space and protected areas for bicyclists at the northbound approach to the intersection, he said.
The change would also have the effect of “calming the turning movements that are taking place at the intersection too,” he said, “[and] creating tighter turning radii so the vehicles that are turning onto and off of Damon or Lincoln are doing so at slower, safer speeds.”
Adding left turn arrows on Damen is not feasible because it would require removing seconds from existing signal phases, and there is a legally required minimum crossing time for pedestrians that has to remain, according to Martin’s office.
Neighbors raised concerns about drivers using residential streets to reach their final destination if the left-turn lanes are eliminated.
Traffic studies have shown once drivers become accustomed to the new traffic patterns, they typically adjust their route to make their turn earlier in their trip using a major street like Addison instead of using side streets, Facknitz said.
“That said, as a part of this concept, we’ve also discussed traffic calming on adjacent residential streets like Grace,” Facknitz said. “To make sure that any traffic that we’re diverting on any of those local residential streets, there’s going to be traffic calming [infrastructure] and we’re keeping them at a slow speed.”
The second proposal would retain the left-turn lanes, and remove parking on the east side of Damen, south of Irving Park.
This plan would also have fewer and narrower pedestrian curb extensions and fewer improvements for bicyclists, but the overall goal would be the same as the other design, Facknitz said.
For more information on the two concepts for the intersection, visit Martin’s website.
Neighbors can submit feedback about the plans via this online survey through Oct. 25.
Martin and transportation officials will review the feedback before choosing one of the designs the week of Nov. 6. Construction would begin sometime next year, Martin said.
“We feel that the status quo is not sustainable,” Martin said.
Thanks for subscribing to Block Club Chicago, an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods. Click here to support Block Club with a tax-deductible donation.