Ald. Harry Osterman (48th) has launched a series of community vision sessions to consider the future of Broadway in Edgewater and Uptown. Credit: Joe Ward/Block Club Chicago

EDGEWATER — Ald. Harry Osterman (48th) is seeking the city and state’s approval to redesign Broadway in Edgewater in an effort to calm traffic and improve pedestrian safety along the thoroughfare.

Osterman unveiled a “Broadway community vision” plan last week that calls for a mix of new public infrastructure and planning priorities for Broadway. Among the plan’s near-term goals is a complete overhaul of Broadway between Foster and Bryn Mawr avenues.

The plan includes a “road diet” for Broadway, which would reduce a traffic lane in each direction to accommodate bike lanes, and pedestrian islands at Rosemont and Norwood avenues.

Osterman is also seeking approval to reduce Broadway’s speed limit from Devon to Lawrence avenues to 20 miles per hour from the current limit of 30 miles per hour.

Much of these proposed changes have already come to Broadway south of Foster Avenue. That stretch of Broadway received a “road diet” about 10 years ago when traffic lanes were reduced to add bike lanes along with a median turn lane and pedestrian islands that give those on foot mid-street refuge when crossing the busy street.

Extending that road configuration on Broadway north of Foster would make the street safer and help achieve other goals of the vision plan, such as attracting new business and development, Osterman said.

The “south of Foster road diet, before it was proposed, everybody complained and said the lake would boil over,” he said at a community meeting last week. “What happened was, it worked. It calmed that section down.”

Broadway from Montrose to Lawrence avenues already received a “road diet” including reduced driving lanes, added bike lanes and concrete medians. Credit: Joe Ward/Block Club Chicago

The road diet plans would extend north to Bryn Mawr Avenue and not to Broadway’s natural end point at Devon Avenue because Broadway north of Bryn Mawr handles much more Du Sable Lake Shore Drive traffic, Osterman said.

The road configuration proposal is one aspect of the master plan to come from Osterman’s Broadway visioning effort. But given recent deaths of pedestrians and bicyclists at the hands of drivers, Osterman said the road improvements are a priority for the corridor.

Osterman said he is pledging $1 million in ward menu funding for the upgrades.

Broadway north of Foster is controlled by the Illinois Department of Transportation. Osterman said he will work with the city and state’s transportation agencies — plus local state elected officials — to get approval for the proposed upgrades.

The road proposal and other aspects of the vision plan will be brought to the community for further discussion, he said.

“I’m going to be hell-bent to make sure we push as much of this through as possible,” Osterman said.

A spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Transportation later said the agency is conducting a study of Broadway in Edgewater as part of the DuSable Lake Shore Drive “northern terminus” traffic study, which is looking to redesign the northern end of the drive.

The project team will include the four-to-three road diet plan proposed by Osterman’s office into the terminus study.

“This cross-section was not previously evaluated as part of the [northern terminus study] but has now been incorporated into the study and is currently being reviewed for feasibility,” spokesperson Maria C. Castaneda said in a statement. “Once complete, the results of the analysis will be shared with IDOT for review.

Other upgrades proposed for Broadway include new public art, improved north-south crosswalks on Broadway and a public plaza in the 6000 block of North Broadway, the 48th Ward Office announced.

Ald. Harry Osterman is proposing to add an indoor swimming pool addition to the Broadway Armory. Credit: Courtesy 48th Ward

The proposals were announced last week at the final of three meetings of Osterman’s Broadway community vision effort.

The visioning sessions sought to develop a set of guidelines for Broadway’s public infrastructure, zoning and development priorities. It was spurred by the massive rebuild of the Red Line in Uptown and Edgewater, a project that has pained neighbors and businesses but is one officials say will bring more commuters and shoppers to the area.

The north leg of DuSable Lake Shore Drive is also set to be rebuilt in the near future. About 28,000 drivers take Broadway daily to get to and from DuSable Lake Shore Drive, according to officials at the first meeting of the vision process.

“When the CTA project is done, that’s gonna lead to a spark in development,” Osterman said. “Us meeting today and trying to get some of these guiding principals to move us forward, lets us as a neighborhood proactively get ahead of that curve. We want to make sure that’s done on the terms of the community and not developers.”

The series of community meetings has culminated in a vision statement outlining priorities for Broadway in Edgewater, including adding green space and environmentally friendly features, boosting the business corridor and increasing residential density. That last measure is to be achieved through mixed-income, mixed-use development along the corridor, according to the document.

Following the Red Line project’s completion in 2024, the CTA will seek to offload four properties it acquired through eminent domain for the construction work, allowing for more development opportunities. A 12-story all-affordable housing development is already set to be built next to the Broadway Armory.

Osterman has also proposed adding an addition to the Broadway Armory that would house an indoor pool.

A spokesperson for the Chicago Park District, which owns the armory, said they met with Osterman on the proposal and are conducting a feasibility study.

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