North Avenue gets $225,000 state grant for roadway plan

IDOT: Funds also will be used to study Chicago Avenue and Madison Street

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

The state has awarded a $225,000 grant to plan roadway enhancements along North Avenue between Oak Park and Central avenues, according to a news release from the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Local leaders and community organizers have long advocated for improvements to the beleaguered commercial corridor, citing a need for better parking, more attention to parkways and more crosswalks, among other concerns.

Judith Alexander, chair of the North Avenue Zoning and Development Advisory Committee and co-founder of the North Avenue Neighbors Association of Oak Park, and other organizers have been working on a walkability study to show a need for improvements to North Avenue.

"We're delighted that this funding came through. We've long believed that North Avenue needs a revitalization plan, and now that will be possible," Alexander said in the IDOT news release. "This will mean a great deal to Chicago and Oak Park residents living near North Avenue."

State Sen. Don Harmon said in the news release that the grant will be used to "enhance safety, improve livability and promote economic development."

IDOT noted that the funds also will be used to study planning along the same segments of Chicago Avenue and Madison Street "to ensure a comprehensive look at the transportation system in the region."

"In other locations, these types of projects have eventually led to safety improvements, enhanced lighting, expanded medians and crosswalks and beautification elements," according to IDOT.


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Judith Alexander from Oak Park  

Posted: January 8th, 2015 5:08 PM

As the story notes, the money also will be used to study Madison and Chicago Avenues between Central and Harlem. Take a look at what's getting spent to study widening the Eisenhower Expressway. This grant really isn't all that much.

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: January 8th, 2015 1:51 PM

$225,000 for a study of two miles? No wonder Illinois' finances are in such bad shape.

Judith Alexander from Oak Park  

Posted: January 8th, 2015 12:16 PM

The study will cover both sides of North Ave. from Central to Harlem. IDOT is using federal program funds to pay for the study. Though the money can't be spent for physical improvements, I expect that the study will result in a number of physical improvements and will do my best to make sure this is the case. The Village will winterize the building at 6643 W. North (if it has not already done so) and will take down the scaffolding. It is attempting to sell the building.

Terry from Chicago  

Posted: January 8th, 2015 11:17 AM

My question should actually have gone to Mitts and why she did not respond to include her area of North Avenue.

Bill from Oak Park  

Posted: January 8th, 2015 9:52 AM

@ Terry from Chicago. If the enhancements go to Central as stated, the improvements cover Austin from Austin to Central.

Terry from Chicago  

Posted: January 8th, 2015 9:40 AM

An interesting read, however, why is the Austin side of North Avenue not included? Austin feeds into Oak Park and its a neighbor. Where were you Judith and Harmon and Graham on this? Or do you and especially Harmon only care for Oak Park and not the whole picture? Does your organization only concern itself with Oak Park businesses only or do you take on North Avenue all the way to Cicero? And if only in Oak Park, why not open an office in Austin with residents that are concerned?

Rich from Oak Park  

Posted: January 7th, 2015 9:24 PM

My reaction to the article is: Huh? What exactly will the money be used for? Sounds like it will be spent doing more studies. How can the state grant funds for no SPECIFIC purpose? What a waste. Use it to knock down the condemned building at 6643, it has been a dangerous eyesore for 4 years. Low hanging fruit, no study required.

Judith Alexander from Oak Park  

Posted: January 7th, 2015 8:32 PM

Thanks for this excellent summary. We are hopeful that Chicago and Oak Park will fund an add-on corridor study (providing a parcel-by-parcel plan for development) like the one for Roosevelt Rd. Unfortunately, IDOT funds can't be used for this purpose due to federal program restrictions.

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