NORTH CENTER — One of the busiest intersections in North Center will be redesigned next year, Ald. Matt Martin (No. 47) is asking neighbors to weigh in on the final concept.
There have been 47 crashes at the six-way intersection at Irving Park Road, Lincoln Avenue and Damen Avenue since 2020, according to Martin’s office.
“This (intersection) is very much one of the heartbeats of our community, and it has and will continue to present a lot of challenges from a traffic and transportation standpoint,” Martin said.
Neighbors got their first look at the possible redesign Wednesday. Martin said both roads would realign traffic flow and improve infrastructure in Lincoln and Damen, both of which are owned by the city.
Kurt Facknitz, street design manager for the Chicago Department of Transportation, said both concepts would add more pedestrian and bicycle safety improvements to Damen and Lincoln, but one design would eliminate the left-turn lane from Damen to Irving Park.
“This is the biggest difference between the two concepts,” Falknitz said.
Martin said Irving Parkway is a state highway and there will be no immediate improvements.
Here’s more information about each plan:
The first design would eliminate the left turn from Damen to Irving Park.
Falknitz said it would preserve on-street parking on both sides of the street and allow for the installation of a parking-protected bike lane on the east side of the street near Irving Park.
He said the redesign would also allow for a massive expansion of pedestrian space and protected areas for cyclists in the intersection’s northbound lanes.
He said the change would also have the effect of “calming down the turning motion that occurs at intersections, (and) create a smaller turning radius so that vehicles turning on Damon or Lincoln do so more slowly and more safely speed.”
Neighbors have expressed concerns about motorists using residential streets to reach their final destinations if the left-turn lane is eliminated.
Falknitz said traffic studies show that once drivers get used to new traffic patterns, they often adjust their routes to make turns earlier in their journeys and use major streets like Addison instead of using side streets.
“That said, as part of this concept, we also discussed traffic calming issues on adjacent residential streets like Grace,” Falknitz said. “To make sure that any traffic that we divert on local residential streets, there’s traffic stabilization (infrastructure) in place and we’re keeping them at a slow pace.”
The second proposal would preserve the left-turn lane and eliminate parking on the east side of Damen, south of Irving Park.
Falknitz said the plan would also reduce and narrow pedestrian curb extensions and reduce improvements for cyclists, but the overall goals would be the same as other designs.
For more information on the two concepts of intersection, visit Martin’s website.
Neighbors can submit feedback about the program through an online survey until Oct. 25.
Martin and transportation officials will review feedback before selecting one of the designs the week of Nov. 6. Construction will begin sometime next year, Martin said.
“We believe the status quo is unsustainable,” Martin said.
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