LINCOLN SQAURE — The “shared street” designation on Leland Avenue is expanding west to the North Branch of the Chicago River in Lincoln Square starting Friday.
The announcement was made by Ald. Matt Martin (47th) Thursday on Twitter.
The first barricades and signs for the new segment of the shared street will be set up Friday at the intersection of Lawrence and Virginia avenues, said Josh Mark, Martin’s director of development and infrastructure.
The goal is to slow the amount of car traffic entering that area of the neighborhood since the city has noticed drivers often use Virginia to enter Leland as a way to get to Western Avenue faster.
“People just speed down Leland trying to avoid the stop lights,” Mark said.
The expansion will also allow neighbors who live along the street and don’t have access to yards to enjoy the summer weather in a socially distant way during the coronavirus pandemic, Mark said.
The expansion is the latest part of the city’s shared street initiative. Leland between Lincoln Avenue and Clark Street was the city’s first shared street when the program started at the end of May.
Area businesses were notified by the city Wednesday and Thursday about the new signs and barricades being set up for the slow street, Mark said.
Earlier this month, Ald. Andre Vasquez (40th) said the Department of Transportation is evaluating if it would make sense to designate the street between Western and and Virginia avenues as a shared street.
The designation is aimed at allowing pedestrians and cyclists to safely use the streets. Barricades are put up that narrow but do not block the entrance to street. Curbside parking remains and local traffic is still allowed on the street but at reduced speeds.
Vasquez said Thursday he’s been in conversations with transportation department officials about opening parts of Balmoral, Catalpa and Berwyn avenues to pedestrian traffic in the 40th Ward.
“Right now we’re waiting on CDOT on some of the other potential streets we submitted to them for possible shared street designation,” Vasquez said. “Knock on wood, we’ll have a short list from CDOT ahead of a Thursday town hall I’m planning where neighbors can give us a thumbs up or thumbs down on how they feel about adding more shared streets to the ward.”