A digital mock-up shows what the "Rose Land" welcome sign could look like.

ROSELAND — Street upgrades could be coming to Roseland to improve safety in the neighborhood and play up its historical architecture.

Representatives from the Chicago Department of Transportation met with neighbors Tuesday to highlight changes that could be coming to the neighborhood in the next few years: large, decorative welcome signs; improved, red-toned sidewalk pavers; bump-outs exclusively for buses and other street improvements inspired by the neighborhood’s architectural history. 

The project is meant to provide street improvements for South Michigan Avenue from 110th Street to 116th Street and 111th Street from the proposed site for the future 111th Street Red Line Station to King Drive.

The work is part of Invest South/West, where the city is putting investment dollars and developments into long-neglected South and West side neighborhoods. Roseland’s portion of the project will meet up with a Pullman Invest South/West project, said Alisa Tilson, a project manager for CDOT’S Livable Streets program.

Tuesday’s meeting focused on hearing residents’ feedback to two ideas that could shape the project corridor’s main visual aesthetic going forward.

Liz Dafoe, a landscape architect and designer from Upland Design, discussed the concepts and let participants of the virtual meeting vote on their favorites. Upland Design is a suburban Plainfield-based architecture and design firm working with CDOT on the Roseland project.

Concept A, called “The Avenue,” would see a community identifier and banners put on street poles along Michigan Avenue in the Far South Side neighborhood. The pieces would use jewel tones and clean lines inspired by the ’50s and ‘60s — when the corridor was known as The Avenue — and by the iconic sign of the former Gately’s Peoples Store. That idea would also see red sidewalk pavers and black metal benches installed.

Concept B, called “Rose Land,” draws inspiration from the neighborhood’s name. That design would feature rose motifs on long, metal welcome signs and street pole banners, plus a rose-inspired color palette with red, green, black and gray that would be featured in sidewalk pavers, signs, planters, benches and other details. 

Attendees favored the “Rose Land” design during a poll. Other polls let neighbors vote on seating areas and sidewalk paver designs.

CDOT is also considering implementing longer bump-outs that would exclusively serve buses, called bus bulbs, Tilson said.

A digital concept shows what an intersection in Roseland could look like with banners and community identifer signs inspired by the former Gately’s Peoples Store. Credit: Chicago Department of Transportation
A digital mock-up shows what the “Rose Land” concept’s Roseland welcome sign could look like. Credit: Chicago Department of Transportation

The bus bulbs, which would be about 80 feet or the length of two city buses, would provide dedicated space for neighbors to board buses while keeping sidewalks clear. With the addition of the bus bulbs, buses wouldn’t need to exit and re-enter traffic when picking up passengers; they’d only stop at the bulbs while remaining in the travel lane, Tilson said.

Because the bulbs would mean buses would no longer pull over to pick up passengers and could halt traffic, CDOT is working with the CTA to study bus bulbs and determine which parts of the project area would be the best to build them, Tilson said. 

There would also be street design improvements throughout the project. On Michigan Avenue from 110th to 116th, the sidewalks would be widened, parkway pavers and trees would be added, street furniture would be installed, street and pedestrian lighting would be upgraded and street parking would be improved.

On 111th Street, from Stewart Avenue to King Drive, there would be new sidewalks, trees added, new street and pedestrian lighting and maintenance of street parking, plus maintenance and upgrades of bike facilities.

City officials are working to develop a final design for the streetscape improvements. Construction is expected to start on Michigan Avenue in early 2023 and last through 2024, when construction on 111th Street will also begin.

Representatives from CDOT will be at the Shop Roseland event noon-4 p.m. Saturday at 27 E. 111th St. for residents who want to ask questions about the project.

A third public meeting on the project is expected to take place in fall or winter, with an exact date to be announced.

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