EDISON PARK — Far Northwest Side residents are calling for safety improvements to a portion of Northwest Highway.
Running through Downtown Edison Park, Northwest Highway has long represented danger, especially for children and older people, said Paul Struebing, vice president of the Edison Park Community Council. He’s among neighborhood organizers pushing to improve safety on the street.
The online petition has been signed by about 700 people so far. It calls for officials to create a “comprehensive plan for improvement that prioritizes the safety of all road users … above vehicle speed” and slows drivers on Northwest Highway and on Oliphant, Oshkosh and Olmstead avenues.
Drivers in the area speed, causing crashes, injuries and deaths, Struebing said. And there are far more people driving in the area than there are residents, he said.
“The people who drive through are not residents; they have no intention of shopping in the area, and they just want to go from one point to another as fast as possible,” Struebing said. “We need to make sure to prioritize the interest of the community.”
Struebing said community leaders have talked to elected officials, and they are “enthusiastic” about doing something with the street.
“It requires a lot of work, but if we get enough signatures to the officials, we’ll be able to point at the people of the neighborhood and say, ‘That’s what they want,'” Struebing said.
Safety improvements on the strip have lagged because Northwest Highway is a state road, but the city is in charge of maintenance, Struebing said. That adds a layer of complexity in determining who’s responsible for safety upgrades.
The petition has gotten support from the Active Transportation Alliance, a nonprofit that works to improve bicycling and walking conditions around Chicago.
Kyle Whitehead, a spokesperson for the nonprofit, said the aim is to calm traffic in the area.
“They could redesign the street, add a protected bike lane or infrastructure to encourage a slower speed,” Whitehead said. “But somehow the roadway design needs to be changed.”
The organizers of the petition want to make sure that the plan to redesign the highway is largely based on community input.
“We want the best solutions for this neighborhood,” Struebing said. “They need to be in the best interest of the residents and the businesses.”
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