The intersection surrounding Logan Square’s Illinois Centennial Monument has bewildered — and endangered — locals and tourists alike for years.
Lifelong Logan Square resident, 37-year-old Erika Chavez, likens the chaotic experience of navigating the winding intersection of Kedzie and Milwaukee avenues and Logan Boulevard to “running with the bulls.”
Adding separated bike lanes, completely reshaping the intersection and allowing two-way traffic on some of the area’s streets are a few of the improvement ideas floated over the years.
Now the years-long project is finally taking shape.
The Chicago Department of Transportation has narrowed it down to four proposals, or “concepts,” which were presented to neighbors at an open house Jan. 30 at Logandale Middle School, 3212 W. George St., the second community event in a series of three.
Each proposal is designed to make the notoriously dangerous intersection safer and more friendly to pedestrians, motorists and cyclists, while maintaining the area’s historic character:
• The first proposal, called “Spot Improvements,” keeps the existing roadway configuration but reduces the number of travel lanes and pedestrian crossing distances in some areas. Adding a new traffic signal and crosswalk at Wrightwood Avenue, creating more public space and redesigning the intersection at Kedzie Boulevard are named as “other opportunities” under the proposal.
• The second proposal, called “Traffic Oval,” re-routes Milwaukee Avenue around the square and realigns Kedzie Avenue west of the Logan Square CTA station, creating more public space in both areas. It would maintain one-way traffic around the square.
• Under the third proposal, called “Two Way, Trip Match,” the streets on the west and south sides of the square would be converted to two-way traffic and the road to the north would be converted to public space. Both Kedzie and Milwaukee avenues would stay intact.
• Milwaukee Avenue would bend around the north and east sides of the square under the fourth proposal, called “Two Way, The Bend.” The configuration would create one large public space. The proposal also calls for converting the streets on the west and south sides of the square to two-way traffic.
All of the proposals were up for debate at the open house, which drew dozens of residents and community stakeholders over the course of three hours. City officials said the feedback will be incorporated into the final design, which they expect to announce at the third open house sometime this summer.
“It’s something people in the neighborhood have been talking about for a long, long time. And it’s good to see something finally happen,” Logan Square resident Brad Reeg, 68, said of the intersection rework.
Some residents, like Reeg, are not in favor of making major changes to the intersection such as re-routing Milwaukee Avenue.
“You’re going to have buses and trucks careening around the square,” said Reeg, who has lived in the neighborhood since 1982.
Chavez and others see the benefits.
“I really like the idea of closing off Milwaukee Avenue,” Chavez said. “Every time I’m at the monument, and I want to get to the other side of that green space that’s encapsulated by Kedzie and Logan, you have to cross Milwaukee. Seeing that shut down, opens up the space and makes it more green, and more inviting and safe.”
Instead, Chavez took issue with the community feedback process, saying too few longtime residents seem to be involved.
“There’s nothing wrong with making [the neighborhood] more green and more desirable, but we have to consider everyone as a stakeholder,” she said. ”I don’t see a good representation of the people I see when I’m walking around or taking the bus [at the open house].”
The intersection rework is just one part of the city’s larger plan to overhaul Logan Square and Avondale’s stretch of Milwaukee Avenue under the “Complete Streets Initiative,” a program that brought pilot improvements to Wicker Park’s stretch of Milwaukee Avenue last summer.
The entire plan, previously described by Ald. Caros Ramirez-Rosa (35th) as a “soups to nuts rework” of the Milwaukee Avenue corridor, is expected to cost at least $10 million in city, state and federal funds. But officials say that figure will likely change once the plan is finalized.
Construction on the intersection, along with the other improvements to Milwaukee Avenue, won’t begin until at least 2020, according to city officials.