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Logan Square, Humboldt Park, Avondale

Unrelenting Belmont Construction Creating A Dangerous ‘Mess’ In Avondale, Residents Say

"This was poor planning to the nth degree," one resident said of three simultaneous construction projects that have left sections of the neighborhood's prime business strip closed for months.

Construction along Belmont Avenue from Kimball to Central Park avenues will last through Sept. 23, according to the city.
Mina Bloom/Block Club Chicago
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AVONDALE — Persistent roadway construction along Belmont Avenue and nearby side streets, paired with the recent reroute of Belmont Blue Line trains, has made navigating Avondale difficult — and dangerous — lately, residents say.

“It’s been a real mess,” said Emily Taylor, outgoing president of Avondale Neighborhood Association.

“It’s affected every mode of transportation,” she said. “With cars driving really fast, it’s been hard to drive and it’s been hard to bike. Even as a pedestrian, it’s difficult to cross the street and the alleys — people are plowing through and not stopping.”

Dave Andreson, who both lives and works off Belmont as the pastor at Resurrection City Church at 2645 W. Belmont Ave., said “finding the quickest route east often feels like we’ve entered a video game.”

Earlier this month, city crews began ripping up the 100-year-old water main on Belmont Avenue from Kimball to Central Park avenues. The main will be replaced and the work complete by Sept. 23, according to a notice from the city’s Department of Water Management.

It came right after a similar project along Barry Avenue, which left the road dusty and riddled with potholes, and another project in the 2900 block of West Belmont Avenue. The latter hurt small businesses like metal burger bar Kuma’s Corner during their busiest season.

Meanwhile, the CTA started doing its own construction on the nearby Belmont Blue Line station. As part of the “Your New Blue Line” renovation project, trains won’t be stopping at Belmont from Aug. 13-Aug. 30. Train users are instructed to get off at the Logan Square stop and transfer there. 

Credit: Mina Bloom/Block Club Chicago
A sign explaining the reroute outside of the Belmont Blue Line station.

The confluence of construction projects has neighbors like Mike Hightower frustrated.

“The fact that this is happening at the same time as the sewer work on Barry and the numerous other side streets just [southwest] of the Belmont and Kimball intersection is ridiculous,” said Hightower, an Avondale resident of eight years.

“This was poor planning to the nth degree. I understand these improvements were needed, but doing them at the same time has created so much more traffic than there needed to be,” he added. 

That opinion was shared by cyclist Erin Watson, who said, “It’s baffling to me that two adjacent blocks are under construction at the same time.”

The construction is not only headache-inducing, but also dangerous, said Watson, who primarily gets around via bike.

Watson pointed to a recent bike and CTA bus crash at Belmont and Central Park avenues that sent Lost Lake bartender Desira Miller to the hospital with multiple injuries, including a fractured skull.

“Knowing that a cyclist got hit by the bus that’s rerouted down my street a couple weeks ago is concerning,” Watson said.

City spokeswoman Susan Hofer said the city is aware of the sequence of construction projects near Belmont and Kimball avenues.

“We have been working with the utilities to closely coordinate the projects to minimize the length of time traffic is disrupted,” Hofer said in a written statement.

She said the city has an office dedicated to coordinating infrastructure projects, which has seen success since it launched roughly seven years ago.

“Through CDOT’s Project Coordination Office, City infrastructure departments and utilities have worked together to reduce the amount of project conflicts that would require opening up a street more than once. These coordination efforts have led to a savings of $129 million since 2012,” Hofer wrote. 

CTA and Water Management representatives didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment late Monday.

Avondale resident Percy Hatcherson said he’d like to see a website with construction information — roadway and train — all in one place.

“This is definitely the most extreme construction I’ve seen,” said Hatcherson, who has lived in the neighborhood for five years.

“That it’s at the same time as the Blue Line — it makes it even weirder,” he said. “It’s a lot at once.”