CDOT presented plans for street upgrades along N. Clark St in Uptown to the community. Planned for the stretch from W. Irving Park Rd up to W. Montrose Ave, the improvements will run along Graceland Cemetery. As part of CDOT’s Vision Zero and the city’s Strategic Plan for Transportation, these infrastructure improvements seek to make streets safe and more accessible for everyone, regardless of their mode of transit.
CDOT reported that through a traffic study they found that over a course of 24 hours, 1,600 cars out of 13,000 drove over the speed limit, with the top speed being 55 mph. According to CDOT, speed is the number one determining factor in the severity of injuries from crashes. At 20 mph, there’s a 10% risk of death or severe injury for pedestrians and cyclists. At 30 mph the risk goes up to 40%, with speeds of 40 mph having an 80% risk of death or severe injury.
A parking study was conducted along the corridor to understand the status of parking and its usage. CDOT found that out of the approximately 100 spaces along this stretch, less than half are typically used. Along the corridor, only two-thirds of spaces on neighborhood side streets are typically occupied. Currently a part of the parking just north of W. Irving Park Rd is designated for charter bus parking.
With those studies in mind, CDOT is proposing a full slate of changes and interventions to make this corridor safer. The plan will remove parking from the east side of the street, while adding protected bike lanes in both directions that will be separated from cars with concrete curbs. To streamline the process for CTA buses, bus boarding islands will be added that bring the bus stop out towards the travel lane, with the bike lane going behind it. In this design, buses will stop in the travel lane to avoid pulling in and out of traffic.
To reduce speeds and increase safety, the speed limit will be reduced to 20 mph. The bus parking just north of W. Irving Park Rd will be removed and a defined CTA bus standing zone will be created at each boarding island. At W. Irving Park Rd and W. Montrose Ave, bike boxes will be added in front of the cars waiting at the stoplight, giving spaces for cyclists to stop and wait for a green light while increasing visibility for them from cars.
Parking will still be available in marked areas along the west side of the street and the bike lanes will be interrupted for all curb cuts, using green markings on the roadway to indicate a bike lane going through. No changes will be made to parking on the side streets.
With the project presented to the community, CDOT is taking the next few weeks to receive feedback from the community before making any adjustments and finalizing the design. The department is targeting installation for later this year.