Spring is here and the so-called “road diet” that Oak Park village planners have been working on for several years is about to begin.
The project, which will run the full length of Madison Street, Austin to Harlem, will narrow portions of the roadway east of Oak Park Avenue to two lanes. This will create room for bike lanes, and easier-to-navigate crosswalks. The project also includes resurfacing of the roadway.
The first phase of the project — removing most of the existing medians — will begin the last week of April, according to Village Engineer Bill McKenna.
This also entails removing the trees and plants from those medians, McKenna said.
Thirty-five trees will be removed from the medians, five of which will be relocated. Those five are swamp white oak trees, he said. Many of the other trees are either too large or in bad condition.
“Many of them were in very poor shape,” he said, noting that center medians are not a prime location for trees because of the lack of soil, the heat and the road salt they are subjected to in the winter.
The trees being relocated are between 6 and 8 inches in diameter. “A couple of the trees are in good shape but too big to relocate,” he said, adding that the village has made other plants and grasses in the medians available to interested parties.
The village has created a website for the road project at www.madisonstreetconstruction.com. The website offers scheduling for various parts of the project and updates with items like the giveaway of plants from the medians. An update on April 15 notes that “there will be temporary rolling lane closures in the direct vicinity of the work. All lanes will be reopened by the end of the working day and traffic will be allowed to continue at all times in each direction.”