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Crossing railroad tracks while bicycling is more than a bumpy annoyance. It can also cause a crash. The abandoned railroad track is finally being removed this month from the intersection of Division Street and Halsted Street. This is likely part of the larger project that removed the Kingsbury Street railroad track from Division Street to North Avenue this summer.

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Also new at this intersection is a new street name sign. It uses a different typeface, with larger text, but forgoes the grid numbering system (it would have “800 W” written on the sign).

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What the intersection looked like earlier this year in March.

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  • http://twitter.com/aka60643 AKA60643

    The diagonal track has been a serious hazard for cyclists. I’m happy to see it going away. Kingsbury is a good change, too.

  • Vytas Idzelis

    i’m so happy about this! last year when it was raining my bike tires slipped sideways on the tracks and i went head over handle bars getting some nice cuts and bruises from it.

  • Ryan Wallace

    The change to the street name sign interests me the most. Large agencies tend to be adverse to changes, simply from a maintenance standpoint (they like to order dozens of signs to have on hand if one is broken); so this change is perplexing. I wonder if (a) This is a temporary sign while they obtain the “normal Chicago standard”; (b) a supplemental plaque with the address will be added later; (c) this is the beginning of a shift in philosophy on street name signs. My interpretation of the MUTCD guidelines not does specifically prohibit the additional information CDOT provides.

    I believe the address information on street name signs is extremely helpful, and makes navigation in Chicago that much easier. I recently took a trip to Spokane and noticed that they also placed street addresses on street name signs, but they have the exact opposite philosophy. For instance if you are traveling westbound on Belmont you see the street signs as N Broadway St (600 W), N Halstead St (800 W), N Sheffield Ave (1000 W), and N Racine Ave (1200 W). However, if you apply the Spokane philosophy, you would see the signs as N Broadway St (3200 N), N Halstead St (3200 N), N Sheffield Ave (3200 N), and N Racine Ave (3200 N). As you can see (and we probably all already know) they “Chicago way” benefits travelers by providing relevant information as you go along the street. Conversely, the “Spokane” way provides you no additional information as you travel, forcing you to take your eyes of the road to look left and right for addresses. My trip to Spokane only further enforced how simple, informative, and surprisingly safe the “Chicago way” is; I would be rather upset if CDOT decided to ditch the addresses altogether.

    • Clark Wellington

      Totally agree with this. I thought the same thing when I saw the picture. I really hope this isn’t part of a larger change.

    • Mark Twain

      The signs all along Halsted (up to North, from Division) are now in Helvetica without using all upper-case lettering. It’s quite different and is difficult to read at a distance. But again, CDOT is being run by children right now. Let’s let them have their toys for the time being.

      • Ryan Wallace

        True, the all caps signs will need to be replaced (per new MUTCD guidelines), but that is separate from the issue of the inclusion of the address data.

        • Mark Twain

          I do concur, fine sir.

    • http://twitter.com/aka60643 AKA60643

      I agree that the address reference can be very useful on street signs. I hope that this is NOT the start of a trend of less information.

  • Mark Twain

    Too bad the tracks weren’t used for public transit. The lack of foresight here for a west Lakeview/Lincoln park/old town/Union Station is status quo for CDOT

    • http://www.stevevance.net/ Steven Vance

      There are not connecting tracks south of Division Street.

      • Marcus Twain

        Yep, used to be trackage all the way to CUS. In-street running could have been done down Division to either Crosby or Orleans. Instead, we have scores of buses for those unfortunate workers in the area of Chicago/Larabee who are too afraid to walk to the L or take a city bus.

        Read up on the former Milwaukee Road’s freight business in the area.

        • nonya

          No, there wasn’t. The only crossing of the river those tracks had was to Goose Island and up at the north end by Bloomingdale. The next rail bridge south of there is the one to the Aparrel Center/Merchandise Mart/Carroll Street. Those tracks did not connect to Kingsbury.

  • John

    I suggested Kinsgbury as a neighborhood greenway as part of the Streets for Cycling Plan. One way to do this would be an actuated bike-only signal phase to cross diagonally from the SE corner to the NW corner on Kingsbury.

    • nonya

      How would it be a neighborhood greenway when it doesn’t go through a neighborhood?

      • http://www.stevevance.net/ Steven Vance

        I like this question. I think there are two further questions: (1) What counts as a neighborhood? There are residences within one block of Kingsbury starting one block north of Division all the way to North Avenue. Does a cluster of businesses and retail count as a neighborhood?
        (2) Is a neighborhood greenway a “facility type” that entails specific and consistent treatments, or is it a designation of a route that’s been optimized to facilitate bicycle traffic (or something else)?

        • Adam Herstein

          Maybe they should just be called Bike Boulevards instead of Neighborhood Greenways. It removes the ambiguity of what counts as a neighborhood and whether or not there is any greenery. Plus, it’s more descriptive, having the word “bike” in the name.

          • http://www.stevevance.net/ Steven Vance

            I think one reason they’re called NGs is that the treatments included in such a project won’t be all about bikes, but will be generic traffic calming changes that impact all modes.

  • dariaclone

    Very happy about this. My husband shattered his foot on a train track near there. Not to be too dramatic, but he will have pain and either issues with it for the rest of his life.

  • Adam Herstein

    I’ve noticed a lot of street signs on Halsted on and near Goose Island have this odd font that is inconsistent with the rest of the city. This has always bothered me more than it should.

    • http://www.stevevance.net/ Steven Vance

      The Halsted font in the photo appears to be the new national standard typeface that you may have seen on the Eisenhower.
      Here’s the same typeface on a highway in Arizona (don’t have a photo of the Eisenhower sign right now). http://www.flickr.com/photos/jamesbondsv/5224640937/

      • Adam Herstein

        Is that a new version of the Interstate typeface?

        • http://www.stevevance.net/ Steven Vance

          I think it’s a new font called Clearview. See questions 11 and 12. http://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/resources/clearviewdesignfaqs/index.htm

          • Adam Herstein

            It looks very similar, but with subtle differences. I wonder why CDOT would not use the standard typeface and design that is used for the rest of the city?

          • Ryan Wallace

            The new typeface (Clearview) is the new standard for 2009 MUTCD (the link you provide above Steven Vance no longer applies). Eventually all signs in the city will have to updated to this new standard. (More importantly new signs have higher standards for retroreflectivity.)

            The newly updated compliance dates for 2009 MUTCD (http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-05-14/pdf/2012-11710.pdf) indicate that “Types of signs other than regulatory or warning are to be added to an agency’s management or assessment method as resources allow”. This means CDOT should be replacing signs at a reasonable rate either (a) as a part of a sign management program or (b) as the signs are broken/traffic signal equipment is upgraded/or other improvements require replacement.

          • Adam Herstein

            So does that mean that the city will have to remove the address information from the street signs? Also, I’d love to find a place to purchase old street signs after they are no longer needed.

          • Ryan Wallace

            Not necessarily. I have not read anything that would specifically prohibit the use of the additional address data on the street name sign (and, at least anecdotal, evidence shows that the information is extremely useful to travelers, and not distracting). Note, however that there isn’t specific guidance on how it should be done either.

          • jared.kachelmeyer

            There is always a steady supply of old street signs on Ebay, though they aren’t necessarily cheap.

  • duppie

    Steven,
    Why do these abandoned tracks exist in numerous places in the city? Are they still railroad property and the railroads have no incentive to clean it up/tear it out? Or is is public/city property and the city hasn’t gotten around to improving the road surface?
    Just curious.

    • http://www.stevevance.net/ Steven Vance

      I think the “They are still railroad property and the railroads have no incentive to clean it up/tear it out” is the correct answer.

      • steven c

        you forget that railroads operate as common carriers under federal authority; abandoning a right-of-way is not a thing that happens quickly, even when they really want to.

        • http://www.stevevance.net/ Steven Vance

          I didn’t forget that. It wasn’t relevant.

  • danzp

    They’ve also covered up some diagonal train tracks on16th St between Central and Laramie in Cicero. January before last, those things caused me to crack my kneecaps. I’m glad to see them smoothed out…