If you’ve ever traveled to Avondale businesses on Rockwell Street between Elston and Belmont Avenues, then you know it’s not an easy area to get around by foot, bike, and car.
And having safe and easy access to businesses is smart public policy that would create many benefits including local jobs, business growth and development, and keep local dollars circulating in the neighborhood.
For these important reasons, North Branch Works is working hard to upgrade the infrastructure by convening local businesses, neighborhood residents, and key stakeholders to inform plans for a safe and accessible Rockwell Street.
Presently, this part of Rockwell St. (pictured above facing south towards Elston) lacks sidewalks in either direction, making it difficult for people on foot to navigate safely between local businesses and nearby residential areas.
And it’s even harder for people walking during peak travel times as drivers use the street as a shortcut to access the expressway via Belmont Avenue.
To build broad community support for safety upgrades, we recently convened a Rockwell St. Infrastructure Task Force meeting for approximately thirty businesses and neighborhood stakeholders in partnership with 33rd Ward Ald. Rossana Rodriguez and the Chicago Department of Transportation (CD0T).
Participants heard an update on initial findings from an ongoing traffic study being carried out by CDOT and had the opportunity to inform initial design concepts and next steps.
The study found that 300 bicyclists use this area daily. And that number is only expected to increase with the completion of the 312 RiverRun Trail as well as the prospect of a continuous Chicago River Trail.
Some of the initial design concepts include adding dedicated space for people walking and biking in addition to having vehicle lanes in both directions. Making these types of upgrades will improve public safety and create a more orderly way of getting around the area (pictured above right Rockwell St at Elston Avenue facing south).
Unfortunately, CDOT does not have any funding to build improvements at this time.
North Branch Works will continue to partner with local businesses, neighborhood stakeholders, and city leaders to move this important work forward though research, outreach, and bringing people together.
So what are the next steps and how can you get involved?
We’re excited to announce the launch of the Rockwell Street Area Advisory Committee, which is open to the public as well as any businesses and stakeholders interested in helping shape and advance a new vision for Rockwell St.
With questions and to join the committee, please contact Steve Simmons, Director of Business and Economic Development, 773-929-5552 x2226, firstname.lastname@example.org
Image credit: Chicago Department of Transportation