CHICAGO (CBS) — One of the city’s busiest and most dangerous intersections was about to become an even bigger headache for drivers, as crews begin a major overhaul in Bucktown.
The six-way intersection of Damen, Elston, and Fullerton avenues has ranked among the top 10 in Chicago for crashes for more than a decade.
City officials said it has more traffic than it can handle under the current configuration, so Elston is being rerouted north, so that there will be three independent signal-controlled intersections.
Whether you’re on two wheels or four, it’s easy to get stuck at the existing bottleneck. The Chicago Department of Transportation estimated, on a bad day, the intersection handles about 70,000 vehicles.
“It’s pretty dangerous for pedestrians, for cyclists, and for cars that get stuck trying to get in through the small pieces of intersection,” Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd) said. “That really causes a lot of backup, which then a lot of what you see are accidents from fender benders.”
The $60 million project to reconfigure the Damen-Elston-Fullerton intersection begins Thursday night, when traffic on Damen and Elston will be reduced to one lane in each direction north of Fullerton, while crews demolish the Midtown Athletic Club to make room for the reroute of Elston.
Once the club is torn down, lane closings on Damen and Elston will be shifted so new water and sewer lines can be installed under the streets. Vienna Beef also will relocate its facility at 2501 N. Damen Av. to Bridgeport, as the relocated Elston Avenue would impair vehicle access at its Bucktown factory.
The project was scheduled for completion in November 2016.
City officials advised drivers to use Diversey Parkway, Clybourn Avenue, Ashland Avenue, Webster Avenue, and North Avenue as alternate routes. Cyclists can take Diversey Parkway, Clybourn Avenue, and Cortland Street as a detour.