Ride into the safety zone: new traffic calming and ped safety treatments

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Englewood resident Denise King tries out the new refuge island at 63rd and Claremont.

[This piece also appeared in Checkerboard City, John’s weekly transportation column in Newcity magazine, which hits the streets in print on Thursdays.]

Running late as usual, I hop on my bicycle and sprint south from Logan Square, fortunately with a sweet tailwind at my back. I’m heading to the ribbon cutting for new Children’s Safety Zone traffic-calming and pedestrian-safety treatments at Claremont Academy Elementary School, 2300 West 64th Street in West Englewood.

The city has 1,500 of these safety zones, designated areas within one-eighth mile of schools and parks. The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) is planning to install additional infrastructure at dangerous intersections within these sectors to discourage speeding and make crossing easier. Currently there are about 3,000 pedestrian crashes a year in the city, with about 800 involving kids (full data below). And in this era of rising obesity rates, the goal is also to encourage more children to walk to school and to play at their local park.

Continue reading Ride into the safety zone: new traffic calming and ped safety treatments

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CDOT’s Gabe Klein announces viaduct repaving project

At a press conference in Englewood Friday, CDOT Commissioner Gabe Klein announced a $4.1 million project to repave roads under 14 viaducts in 13 different wards across the city (average cost $250,000 per viaduct).

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He explained that seeking federal funding for this project would free up more locally generated funding for neighborhood street repair and repaving projects.  The entire project is federally funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

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Crews are doing complete road reconstruction on approximately 4,500 linear feet of roadway at the following locations (see map below): Continue reading CDOT’s Gabe Klein announces viaduct repaving project

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Englewood Flyover broke ground today – will save 7,500 hours of Metra delays annually

Updated October 11, 2011, to add link to Transportation Secretary LaHood’s blog.

Photo by ABC7 reported Charles Thomas, taken this morning. In this photo are Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Gabe Klein, and Governor Pat Quinn. 

I woke up this morning and saw Gabe Klein tweeting about a groundbreaking ceremony for CREATE P1 (known as the Englewood Flyover), one of the nation’s most important projects (actually a group of 67 projects). It separates freight from passenger rail traffic, and upgrades facilities for smoother and faster switching and travel. The Englewood Flyover will elevate Metra Rock Island District trains (north-south) over Norfolk Southern and Amtrak trains (east-west) in the Englewood and Grand Crossing neighborhoods.

According to the project description on the CREATE website“Metra riders experience more than 7,500 annual passenger hours of delay” – this will be eliminated.

The bridge will be built big enough to carry three tracks (where there are two now) over five tracks (where there are three now). The bridge will begin at about 5700 S LaSalle Street and end at about 6900 S Princeton Avenue. Recovery/stimulus money will pick up most of the construction tab:

The $133 million for the Englewood Flyover includes $126 million in federal funding leveraged through $6.6 million from Governor Quinn’s six-year, $31 billion Illinois Jobs Now!, the largest capital program in state history. A consortium of railroads involved in the CREATE program earlier contributed $3 million toward design costs. (Decatur Tribune)

Illinois Jobs Now! is the capital expenditure plan from Governor Quinn that was signed in 2009 and supported by bonds (debt), and fee and tax increases. The event was also an opportunity to promote President Obama’s American Jobs Act, as Transportation secretary Ray LaHood attended alongside Representative Dan Lipinski and other “politicos”.

Ray, on his Fast Lane blog, wrote more about the impact on jobs:

 A strict “Buy America” requirement ensures U.S. manufacturers and workers receive the maximum economic benefits from this federal investment.  This means that the Englewood flyover project will create nearly 1,500 jobs.

View Englewood Flyover in a larger map

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