Madison 'road diet' project begins

First phase removes road medians, trees and plants

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

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 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."

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Brian Slowiak  

Posted: April 24th, 2019 11:36 AM

@ Jim Belton: The cul du sacs along Austin Blvd. were placed by Oak Park government to keep Chicago residents in particular Austin residents from entering Oak Park from all directions.Business traffic of just about any kind should not be restricted.

Jason Cohen  

Posted: April 24th, 2019 10:50 AM

Am I the only one that feels like we went straight from let's discuss a Madison road diet to construction is starting? I genuinely thought this was still in the planning and community discussion phase. This really seems like a bad idea and I still don't understand the positives of this project at all. I guess it doesn't matter now.

Jim Belton from Oak Park  

Posted: April 24th, 2019 9:00 AM

Never smart to restrict traffic thru the village.

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