CHICAGO (CBS) — A North Side intersection long known as one of the city’s most congested traffic hotspots has been rebuilt, and officials expect the $22 million overhaul will make the six-way intersection safer and more convenient.
For years, the six-way intersection of Damen, Fullerton, and Elston was considered one of the busiest and most dangerous in Chicago. On Monday, city officials cut the ribbon on a reconstruction project that shifted Elston so it no longer converges with Damen and Fullerton in a single location.READ MORE: Chicago Police Union President Urges Aldermen To Repeal Mayor's Vaccine Mandate For City Workers, Judge Denies Request To Extend Gag Order
The original six-way intersection often led to major traffic backups in the Bucktown neighborhood.
The new configuration has shifted Elston, so it no longer crosses Fullerton and Damen at a diagonal in one spot. Instead, Elston now turns north to cross Fullerton just west of the Chicago River, then turns west to cross Damen, before turning to its normal diagonal flow again.
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Illinois State Rep. Ann Williams (D-Chicago) said she regularly drives through the intersection, which lies in her district. She predicted the rebuild of Damen, Elston, and Fullerton will trigger something of an economic renaissance in an area that until now was something of a no man’s land in her view.
“If you spend any time driving on Damen, you know how difficult this intersection has been. So, as a commuter, it’s great to see the infrastructure improvement; but, as a resident of Chicago, it’s really great to see the economic development that will come as a result of the project,” she said.
Midtown Athletic Club CEO Steve Schwartz said its ongoing expansion project, adding a new 55-room hotel, would not have been practical without the overhaul of the intersection.
“Midtown’s transformation has had a tangible economic impact on Chicago. We’ve had over 100 construction workers here every day for the past two years, and we’ve expanded our Midtown workforce by over 180 people,” he said.MORE NEWS: Illinois State University Student Jelani Day's Death Ruled A Drowning
Officials said the area of Damen, Elston, and Fullerton eventually will become a small retail hub, catering to the 70,000 daily commuters who drive through there.