The “Prince of Downtown” is at it again. Ald. Brendan Reilly is making good on his promise to continue to bring improvements to the neighborhoods in the downtown 42nd district.
That’s great news to residents who call downtown Chicago their home. Putting his money where his mouth is, Ald. Reilly allocated a substantial portion of his discretionary Aldermanic Menu capital fund for the much-needed infrastructure repairs, starting with Randolph Street.
The New Eastside is experiencing an influx of young families, as well as growing numbers of pedestrians along Randolph and surrounding streets. Visitors to Millennium Park make up a large percentage of pedestrian traffic. Concerned residents contacted the alderman to discuss traffic issues, signage, pedestrian safety, which includes senior citizens with mobility issues, and bicycle traffic along Upper Randolph to North Harbor Drive.
After an extensive traffic and infrastructure survey of Upper Randolph, the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) developed several large-scale improvements to this downtown section. Scheduled improvements include ways to slow traffic as well as upgrade travel for pedestrians, bikes, and vehicles.
New Bike Lanes
Chicago is “cycle city,” where many residents enjoy riding bicycles. At Ald. Reilly’s request, the CDOT will be making pavement marking improvements to Upper Randolph Street between Michigan and Columbus Drive. The eastbound bike lane on the north side of Upper Randolph Street from Columbus Drive to just west of Stetson Avenue will be effected. Shared lanes were recently installed from the end of the old bike lanes down to Michigan Avenue.
On the south side of Upper Randolph, between Stetson and Columbus, buses going to Millennium Park will no longer be a problem. The eastbound bike lane has been relocated eight feet from the curb. Pavement markings and warning signs should keep the lanes clear and avoid further issues.
The Intersection of Upper Randolph and Field Blvd
With the higher volume of traffic, including taxis and buses that service the area, complaints have been filed by residents of vehicles failing to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians on the crosswalk on the east leg of the Upper Randolph and Field Blvd. In an effort to assist in vehicular compliance, the crosswalk and stop line on the west side were moved 35 feet to the east. I walked past there yesterday at rush hour to check out the changes. You can see the difference already! The signage is there and improved. Cars are coming to a complete stop as well as taking the time to look before accelerating. This is a great improvement for the safety of everyone on foot.
The Intersection of Upper Randolph and Harbor Drive
I consider this an intersection you cross by the seat of your pants! One minute you look and you see it is all clear to cross, half-way in the middle of the intersection, zoom! a car comes flying onto Harbor Drive. So far, they have seen me in time. (Thank goodness!) I could see this was an accident waiting to happen. Until Ald. Reilly stepped in.
Fear not, residents, the intersection has been re-done. I saw the painted median affixed on the curve to serve as a buffer and a place for pedestrians to wait while navigating the next lane as we watch for traffic before stepping off our “little island.” The lanes are narrower to slow vehicles down. (This is better than speed bumps, or “sleeping policemen” as they call them in the Caribbean). Just a note of caution: when a bus is sitting at the bus stop waiting for passengers, cross with caution because oncoming cars from Randolph will inevitably have to drive on the median to get around the bus. I saw this yesterday as I approached the intersection.
Additional signage will be installed by The City to alert and prepare drivers of the approaching curve as they swing onto Harbor from Randolph. Hopefully that will be done soon; like I said, I saw a driver run right over the median just before I crossed the street!
The improvements began yesterday, Oct. 18th and residents will be able to see quite a bit of work that has already been done. The work will continue for eight weeks as Ald. Brendan Reilly continues to address the concerns of the citizens in our downtown ward. Shoot him an email and tell him how great the neighborhood looks!
For more information, stop by the alderman’s “Virtual Office” at www.ward42chicago.com. Subscribe to ReillyReports, a weekly e-newsletter for all the latest happenings in our area.