With all of the construction happening on Argyle Street around the CTA Red Line Station in the Uptown neighborhood, you might think that something big is coming. You’d be right.
Today is the official start of the transformation of the over-used, under-cared-for urban corridor into a hub of the neighborhood. Everything you saw up until now was just preparations for the big event.
As The Chicago Architecture Blog’s Daniel Schell reported back in January, Argyle is being turned into a “shared street:”
One block at a time, Argyle will be completely reshaped, starting at Broadway to the west and moving east to Sheridan. All businesses will be contacted 72 hours in advance of work in front of their locations. Utility work will require intermittent gas and water shut-off, though businesses will be able to stay open during construction. The ward will set up an office on site to maintain an open line of communication with affected businesses and residents: no secrets and no surprises.
“Shared Street” means that cars will no longer be able to zoom up and down the street while L riders and other pedestrians dodge them. Nor will they be able to clog up the street, making passage impossible for people on bicycles and other modes of transportation.
But it’s more than that. CDOT sees it as a chance to remake the mini-neighborhood. Its goals are
- Improve infrastructure by creating a cohesive and flexible streetscape plan within funding limitations
- Support existing Argyle St. merchants and their customers and bolster Argyle St. as a regional business destination
- Brand Argyle St. business district and develop community identification
- Provide a complete and shared street that benefits the flow of pedestrian, vehicular and bike traffic equally
- Implement streetscape and infrastructure elements that increase public safety and deter negative activity
The department of transportation has put together a buffet of features it hopes will work together to achieve those goals. Among them are:
- New trees
- New planters
- New streetlights
- New bike racks
- New bollards
- New sidewalk cafes
- New paving stones
- Pedestrian refuge under the CTA bridge
It is also going to fundamentally change the geometry of the vehicle lanes as another method of slowing traffic, using variable-width lanes and nose-in parking to force cars to meander through the area, instead of rush right through.
The area used to be a little rough, and still sees more than its share of mischief. But at the same time it’s becoming both a bustling Asian enclave and a home to people priced out of the downtown districts who still need a quick way to get to work.
48th Ward Alderman Harry Osterman sent out this message to his constitutents about the project:
Traffic will be one-way only going east 24/7 throughout the project.
Westbound traffic will have detours posted throughout the community.
Parking will remain on the south side of street, where possible.
All staging of materials will be in the work zone.
Stage 1 of the project will begin on the north side of Argyle, starting at Broadway and working east.
This project will proceed in phases, beginning with the removal of all sidewalks, curbs and gutters.
Stage 1 is from July 6-October 6, 2015; Broadway to Sheridan, north side.
Stage 2 is from October 6-November 20, 2015; Broadway to Kenmore, south side.
Stage 3/4 (Spring 2016); Kenmore to Sheridan and Argyle Street itself will be paved from Broadway to Sheridan.
There will be access to the CTA station and all businesses throughout the project with some challenges when the contractors are in front of each individual business. All pedestrians will be encouraged to use the south side of the street. There will be no work done on Saturdays and Sundays.
The contractor for the project, Speedy Gonzales, will have an onsite office at Argyle, exact location TBD. They will be available to the community to answer any questions and will hold weekly meetings at their office throughout the project. You also may contact the 48th Ward office at 773-784-5277 or firstname.lastname@example.org