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State grant to upgrade Chicago Avenue sidewalks

Evanston officials say they plan to use a $800,000 state grant to continue work on the city’s Chicago Avenue Streetscape Improvement Project.

This year’s work will focus on the west side of Chicago Avenue between South Boulevard and Main Street. For most of this stretch the CTA el tracks directly adjoin the road.

Evanston officials say they plan to use a $800,000 state grant to continue work on the city’s Chicago Avenue Streetscape Improvement Project.

This year’s work will focus on the west side of Chicago Avenue between South Boulevard and Main Street. For most of this stretch the CTA el tracks directly adjoin the road.

Improvements will include new sidewalks, street lights, benches, planters and street trees, as well as traffic calming improvements including narrower travel lanes and curb extensions.

“This important gateway corridor is rapidly redeveloping and in need of functional and aesthetic upgrades,” said Paul Schneider, the city’s director of transportation and city engineer.

He said residents of the area have indicated they want the project "to create a tree-lined parkway, improve linkages with nearby neighborhoods and preserve automobile flow and parking while at the same time making it safer for pedestrians.”

The Chicago Avenue corridor has already seen two streetscape improvement projects. The first, along the east side of the road between South Boulevard and Keeney Street, was completed in 2004 as a prototype. The other, at the northwest corner of Chicago Avenue and Main Street, was completed in 2006. Another section, on the east side of the road between Lee Street and Greenleaf Street, is scheduled for the fall of 2011.

The state funding, Schneider said, helps address a section of the street where there are few private property owners who could be tapped to fund the improvements as part of redevelopment projects, because most of the land is owned by the CTA.

“The streetscape improvements will increase public safety along the corridor by upgrading five bus stops along Chicago Avenue; enhancing pedestrian crosswalks by both installing signals and stripped crosswalks; and by widening sidewalks,” Schneider added.

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