LOGAN SQUARE — City-led plans to improve safety along Logan Square and Avondale streets — some years in the making — are taking shape.
First up, Belmont Avenue is getting protected bike lanes and other improvements, officials announced last week at a 35th Ward community meeting.
The city’s Department of Transportation is installing curb-separated bike lanes on Belmont from Kimball to Western avenues this summer as part of its Complete Streets program, an initiative aimed at boosting safety for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers.
The bike lanes, which will provide an east-west connection to other lanes across the city, are one part of a much larger project to revamp Belmont, a wide street with a speeding problem, Complete Streets manager Dave Smith said at the meeting. The meeting was hosted by Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa’s office to update residents on infrastructure projects.
Avondale residents have long complained of speeding drivers on Belmont Avenue, some going 70 mph, Smith said.
To slow traffic, the city is lifting rush hour parking restrictions and adding right-sized travel lanes along the street, as well as installing a series of curb extensions, which will narrow the road and allow businesses to provide more outdoor seating.
Also included in the Belmont Avenue improvement project are pedestrian crossings, floating bus stops and a dedicated bus lane coming to the busy intersection of Belmont and Kimball avenues, where the Belmont Blue Line station is, Smith said.
Construction is expected to start in late July or early August.
“This is really a project that in many ways embodies the Complete Streets philosophy,” Smith said. “We think this is a great benefit for the Avondale community and people using the Belmont corridor.”
A complete overhaul of a Logan Square and Avondale portion of Milwaukee Avenue — a project that has been in the works for 15 years and includes the much-anticipated redesign of the Logan Square traffic circle — is also inching forward, Dave Miller, Chicago Department of Transportation project manager, said at the meeting.
The Belmont Avenue plan is essentially a basic resurfacing project, whereas the Milwaukee Avenue project is a “full” rebuild of the road, a “big project” that will take two construction seasons, Smith said.
New raised sidewalks, gutters, street lighting, traffic signals and trees, along with curb extensions and bike lanes, are coming to Milwaukee Avenue between Belmont Avenue and Logan Boulevard under this project, Smith said. Construction is expected to begin next spring.
As part of the Milwaukee Avenue project, the city is reconfiguring the notoriously confusing and dangerous Logan Square traffic circle, which has been the site of many crashes and near-crashes over the years.
Long-discussed plans call for rerouting Kedzie Avenue north of Milwaukee Avenue, creating a public plaza adjacent to the Logan Square Blue Line station and rerouting Milwaukee Avenue around the square “to create a unified Logan Square,” city planners have said. The roads surrounding the square will be converted to two-way traffic.
Ramirez-Rosa’s office and community groups, including Paleneque LSNA and Logan Square Preservation, teamed up with the city on the plaza’s design, which draws inspiration from the neighborhood’s Latino community.
La Placita, as it’s being called, will transform the heart of Logan Square with green space and gathering spots. The project will require rerouting Kedzie Avenue around at the Logan Square Blue Line station through what is currently the bus turnaround. City officials expect to debut the plaza in late 2024.
“There’s not many opportunities in the city to create brand-new plazas,” Miller said. “This is going to be a marquee location, a focal point of this project.”
Also in Logan Square and Avondale, the city wants to install bike lanes and make other infrastructure improvements along Kedzie Avenue from Diversey Avenue to Addison Street. That project is in the planning phase, but construction should begin this summer, city officials said.
A resurfacing project bringing buffered bike lanes and curb extensions to Diversey Avenue from California to Central Park avenues is underway and expected to wrap up this summer, officials said.
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