The diet won't work

Opinion: Letters To The Editor

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I thought Bob Calin-Jageman made some great points in his "One View" in Wednesday Journal [Road diet benefits on Madison will likely be minimal, Viewpoints, Nov. 22].

Anyone at village hall who thinks a Madison Street "diet" is not going to adversely affect the surrounding area, has not given this matter proper consideration. The Mayor may find this his lifelong dream, but people who live or travel Washington or Jackson boulevards will find the end result a nightmare. There will be overflow onto these streets from Madison as well as other east-west routes like Randolph Street. Adding a bike lane to accommodate another 20-30 daily riders (at most) hardly seems worth the effort when there are other safer bikes routes on smaller area streets. This being the Midwest, what are we talking about in bike usage: 6-7 months?

With all the building happening in Oak Park, the village in the central zone is already overcrowded with vehicles and recently there was talk of another multi-story building proposed for Lake Street. Sorry, Unity Temple, they'll finance a study to show no adverse effect just as they did with Austin Gardens. The people living in this central zone for the past few years have faced construction delays causing Lake Street drivers and bikers to utilize North and South Boulevard.

Cutting traffic flow on Madison will only make everyone's life more miserable and extend the gridlock further.

One argument that always seems to come up with the proposed Madison Street diet is how more people will stop and shop Oak Park stores if the vehicle speeds are reduced and the street becomes one lane (plus a turning lane) in each direction. Where is it written that people will see a store on their way to work or an appointment of any type and pull over because it looks interesting? A grocery store at Oak Park/Madison will make a difference? Only if you're planning to go grocery shopping that day; otherwise why would you stop? We need better and more interesting stores in Oak Park instead of the usual retreads. Take a ride along Route 45 through LaGrange and you'll see a street much busier than Madison with stores on both sides of the road and a single parking lane in each direction. It all works because the stores and restaurants are appealing to the people in this area, not because traffic is slowed to a crawl.

Village hall continues to make decisions that the Mayor deems wonderful, and while I am certainly not against progress, it gets to a point where this is no longer Oak Park but some version of Evanston without a major university to support all the construction. Long after the people at village hall and the rest of us are gone, our future generations will have to live with what we've created. At this point I do not envy them.

Jim Agin

40-year resident of Oak Park

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