LOGAN SQUARE — After years of talking about ways to improve the confusing and dangerous Logan Square traffic circle, Chicago Department of Transportation officials have officially landed on a plan.
The traffic circle — where Logan Boulevard intersects with Kedzie and Milwaukee avenues — would get a major facelift under the proposal, which officials unveiled Tuesday evening at the city’s third and final community meeting.
The proposal calls for bending Milwaukee Avenue around the north and east sides of the square, converting the streets on the west and south sides of the square to two-way traffic and re-routing Kedzie Avenue to the north. The configuration would turn the area surrounding the Logan Square monument into a larger plaza with more green space.
That section of Milwaukee Avenue north of the square next to Comfort Station? It wouldn’t be a road anymore under the city’s proposal. Instead it would be part of the plaza.
The proposal is called “Two Way, The Bend,” and it’s one of four plans city officials pitched to neighbors at the second community meeting in early 2018.
According to city officials, the “Two Way, The Bend” proposal “unifies” Logan Square while also allowing for a “fixed event space.” It also allows for about the same amount of parking as the current intersection.
Neighbors on social media mostly applauded the city’s choice. One of them called it the “best compromise.”
“I was highly skeptical of the two way layout until I realized the flexibility that it will give,” neighbor Jacob Peters said. “From being able to close portions of the street for festivals, to decreasing pedestrian wait times for crossing streets, to reducing conflicts between bikes & cars, it has me convinced.”
Yet local activists and community leaders have said they’re worried the project could speed up gentrification. They met over the summer to examine how racial and ethnic groups will be affected.
The intersection rework is just one part of the city’s larger plan to overhaul Logan Square and Avondale’s stretch of Milwaukee Avenue under the “Complete Streets Initiative,” which has brought traffic improvements to other problem intersections such as Milwaukee, North and Damen avenues in Wicker Park.
The Logan Square circle is unique in that it’s not a true roundabout because it’s broken up by stoplights. Perhaps because of this, the intersection has confused locals and tourists for years.
One lifelong resident likened the chaotic experience of navigating the winding intersection to “running with the bulls.”
The intersection has also proven to be dangerous. Between 2011 and 2015, the circle saw 121 crashes, according to CDOT data. In 2016 alone — the most recent year data is available — the circle saw 34 crashes, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation. The data only includes reported crashes.
This comes as Logan Square residents are biking and taking the train more than residents in other parts of the city, according to CDOT data. The city agency said cyclists make up 4-to-7 percent of daily traffic on Milwaukee Avenue. The number jumps to 11 percent during morning and afternoon rush hour.
The entire project is expected to cost at least $10 million in city, state and federal funds. But officials say that figure will likely change once the plan is finalized. Construction won’t begin until at least 2020.
The full proposal is listed on the city’s Complete Streets website.
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