Lake Street-Oak Park Ave. intersection closing

Construction starts April 1

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Print

By Stacey Sheridan

Staff Reporter

The intersection of Lake Street and Oak Park Avenue – a portion of the wider Lake Street Improvement Project – will undergo sewer and utility upgrades faster and earlier than planned. Due to reduced traffic levels and closed businesses as a result of the statewide "stay-at-home" order issued to prevent further spread of COVID-19, the village of Oak Park has condensed the timeframe for the work.

"Everything has changed in recent weeks due to COVID-19 and this project is no different," said Jim Prescott of Prescott Group, the firm handling project communications.

The intersection will close at 5 a.m., April 1 with construction expected to last seven to 10 days.

An emailed update sent March 30 via the project's website, BetterLakeStreet.com, stated the intersection would close as early as March 31.

"Logistics and mobilization of signage, equipment, et cetera, has pushed closure to 5 a.m. Wednesday, [April 1]," Prescott said.

The one-day delay makes little difference, considering the original construction schedule called for multi-stage closures of the intersection beginning April 13 with work carried out over a period of four weeks.

Now, two to three crews will work simultaneously, instead of one crew in sections, to complete improvements to the intersection within seven to 10 days, according to Prescott.

The village and project managers made the decision to compress the construction schedule to mitigate impact and inconvenience.

"I am extremely excited about it. I think it was a very smart decision," said Anne Pezalla, president of the Hemingway District Business Association and co-owner of the athletic boutique Lively, 109 N. Oak Park Ave.

While Pezalla has yet to speak with any of the other business owners within the Hemingway District, which extends along Oak Park Avenue from Lake Street to Pleasant Street, she believes carrying out construction sooner while most businesses are closed makes perfect sense.

"I love the idea of doubling up on the work, going really hard," Pezalla said. "Nobody's driving. Nobody's walking. Most of the retail businesses are shuttered. I know it's going to be a pain, but if we can do it now, then when we reopen, hopefully in a couple months, the parking and the traffic will be a lot better."

Jim August, co-owner of the Irish Shop, 100 N. Oak Park Ave., and former Hemingway District Business Association president, feels similarly to his successor, if not quite so enthusiastically.

"Let's get it done; get it out of the way," said August. "It'll be disruptive, but it can't be any more disruptive than what coronavirus is doing to small businesses all over the country."

August called it "dumb luck" that the planned Lake Street renovations coincided with the COVID-19-related temporary business closures.

"The impact that [construction's] going to have at this particular point is to our advantage as a business district because we're mandated to be closed," August said. "We're getting hurt by COVID-19 anyway."

August believes that essential businesses, such as restaurants, will probably be affected more by the full closure of the intersection because it will make travel difficult for customers.

"I feel for the restaurants. They're doing curbside pick-up," said August. "Hopefully they're going to be OK."

August hopes people continue to place curb-side pick-up orders from restaurants along Lake Street and Oak Park Avenue.

"I'm hoping people are supporting local restaurants that way because without that there's not a lot of good news for them," he said. "COVID-19 – it's not good for anyone."

Love the Journal?

Become our partner in independent community journalism

Thanks for turning to Wednesday Journal and OakPark.com. We love our thousands of digital-only readers. Now though we're asking you to partner up in paying for our reporters and photographers who report this news. It had to happen, right?

On the plus side, we're giving you a simple way, and a better reason, to join in. We're now a non-profit -- Growing Community Media -- so your donation is tax deductible. And signing up for a monthly donation, or making a one-time donation, is fast and easy.

No threats from us. The news will be here. No paywalls or article countdowns. We're counting on an exquisite mix of civic enlightenment and mild shaming. Sort of like public radio.

Claim your bragging rights. Become a digital member.

Donate Now

Reader Comments

4 Comments - Add Your Comment

Note: This page requires you to login with Facebook to comment.

Comment Policy

Natalie Clark Caver  

Posted: May 1st, 2020 8:35 AM

What type of "utility" upgrades?

Susan Subak  

Posted: March 30th, 2020 7:22 PM

I hope that if this work proceeds that it will be safe for the people doing the job. I've noticed the work crew on Lake standing in close proximity and with two more teams on the scene, social distance will be more challenging.

Steve Kelley  

Posted: March 30th, 2020 6:43 PM

It is a good idea to get this out of the way when the traffic is slower than it has ever been

Leonard Grossman  

Posted: March 30th, 2020 6:02 PM

If the intersection is closed, how are people going to do curbside pickup?

Facebook Connect

Answer Book 2019

To view the full print edition of the Wednesday Journal 2019 Answer Book, please click here.

Quick Links

Sign-up to get the latest news updates for Oak Park and River Forest.


            
SubscribeClassified
MultimediaContact us
Submit Letter To The Editor
Place a Classified Ad