Evanston has received a $792,000 Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Grant for traffic signal modernization along Dempster Street.

The grant is part of $411 million in federal transportation programs granted to the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning to support the regional plan’s goals for reducing congestion and improving air quality in the metropolitan area.

The grants were approved at a CMAP board meeting Wednesday.

Traffic lights on Dempster at Fowler and Hartrey avenues, Shopping Plaza Drive and Dodge, Asbury and Ridge avenues will be modernized with this funding.

City officials say the new signals will improve traffic flow; help reduce travel time for the Pace 250 Arterial Rapid Transit service from Davis Street to O’Hare airport, and improve pedestrian safety while reducing car emissions and energy consumption.

The total project cost is $990,000 with the CMAQ grant covering 80%.

City traffic engineers say the Dempster corridor is severely congested and the closely spaced intersections cause queuing problems during the morning and evening peak periods.

The project involves signal modernization and interconnection of the six signals, including the replacement of outdated controllers, new mast arm poles to provide one traffic signal head per lane, traffic signal equipment, installation of loop detectors and fiber optic interconnect system, and LED lights.

Pedestrian countdown signals will also be added at the intersections within the project limits to improve the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists.

Upon the completion of the project it will be ready to provide Transit Signal Priority service to Pace Bus 250. Existing on-street parking will be maintained.

Phase I and II Engineering Design parts of the project are tentatively scheduled to be completed in 2013 and Phase III construction will be in 2014.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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