Plans to rebuild Ridge Avenue from Howard Street to Lyons Street next year were reviewed at a public meeting at the Civic Center last night.
Residents study a map of the Ridge Avenue project.
A few of the roughly 30 people present at the meeting suggested the street should be reconfigured to have two travel lanes and a dedicated left turn lane, but most of those present seemed to favor the city consultant's recommendation to keep the existing four-lane layout.
Consultant Bob Andres of CivilTech Engineering, Inc.Â said the roadway now is very narrow — with nine-foot travel lanes instead of the 12-foot lanes preferred by the state transportation department.
But he said Ridge is used byÂ up toÂ 22,000 cars a day — several thousand more thanÂ two travel lanes canÂ handle without creating so much congestion that drivers would switch to side streets to try to shorten their travel time.
Residents have long fought widening the street, because it would mean removing many parkway trees and would affect the character of the road which runs through two local historic districts.
In addition to repaving, the project calls for installing relief storm sewers and taking a number of steps to improve pedestrian and traffic safety and improve traffic flow.
Mr. Andres said five intersections — at Greenleaf, Greenwood, Grove, Davis and Church have relatively high traffic accident rates.
At two intersections without traffic signalsÂ — Greenwood and Grove — the city plans to allow only right turns onto Ridge — no through traffic or left turns.
At Dempster Street, the first block south of Greenwood,Â the plan calls for eliminating an existing ban on left turns and creating a left turn lane on Dempster.
Traffic on Grove would have to shift to signalized intersections at either Lake or Davis to make a left turn.
At Davis Street, where several pedestrian accidents have occurred, the city plans to install countdown timer walk signals to give pedestrians a better idea of how much time they have left in which to cross the street.
That's part of a larger project already underway to replace all traffic signals along Ridge this year, before the repaving work begins.
Because of the limited space on the roadway, traffic will be reduced to a single lane northbound whileÂ the repavingÂ is underway. Southbound traffic will detour onto Asbury Avenue.
In addition drivers will be encouraged to use Chicago Avenue and McCormick Boulevard as alternate routes.
The project will be done in two phases, with the section of Ridge south of Main Street rebuilt first starting next February.Â The work isÂ scheduled to be completed by November 2008.
The ctiy is seeking funding from the state and federal governments to cover most of the project cost, but to get the funds it has had to agree to take over future maintenance responsibilities for the street.
City Traffic Engineering Director John Burke said Ridge Avenue was last rebuilt almost 40 years ago.