North Avenue as it fronts both River Forest and Elmwood Park from Harlem to Thatcher is, to our untrained eye, a good place for a lot of cars to drive as fast as they can. And they’ve got four lanes to do it in.
So news this week that the two towns have joined up to hire a consultant because there is a “shared desire to create a more walkable and pedestrian-friendly environment” along the stretch seems an impossible, though worthy, aspiration.
Add in that, because North Avenue/Route 64 is a state route, there can be no diminishing of lanes, and there is no plan to acquire any land, we’re looking at a potential plan that puts a lot of heavy-lifting on bump-outs, planters and brick sidewalks to accomplish its goals.
Now if the plan is to make Elmwood Park’s quite phenomenal Restaurant Row look more handsome and more walkable with paving bricks, then we have a goal that can be accomplished. If you want a patron to park on the south side of North Avenue and cross over to New Star then we’re going to need some bridges.
Perhaps we are underestimating the tools available to a consultant. And we’re always happy when two communities work as one. In the meantime, we will wait and watch for North Avenue to become pedestrian-friendly.