With an endless barrage of streetscape improvements rolling out around town, we seldom take a special interest in any one project. This one's an exception. The city has wrapped up phase one of the Blue Island/Cermak Sustainable Streetscape project in Pilsen. Introduced in 2009 as the future "greenest street in America" with permeable and reflective smog eating photocatalytic cement, storm water diversion for irrigation, the use of drought-resistant native plants, pedestrian and bicyclist-minded improvements, and an overall reduction in energy usage of 42%. Whew! What a mouthful. The $14M pilot project's battery of green improvements won't be in full flight until the street canopy fills in and cooling technologies are put to the test in summertime. And it wouldn't hurt to enlist more people and human-scaled businesses— the area is super desolate and industrial at the moment. But there's a lot to laud here: the pavement breathes for Christ's sake!
Ald. Daniel Solis (25th) sees the demonstration project as "improving the infrastructure and quality of life of the Pilsen Community... Sustainability projects like this advance change in the public and private sectors and demonstrate the city's ability to lead by example." Beginning at Halsted, the project will eventually extend along Cermak and Blue Island all the way to Western. As big a financial outlay as it requires upfront, this infrastructure will save money over its lifetime. Let's hear it for CDOT!
·City Unveils "Greenest Street in America" in Pilsen Neighborhood [City of Chicago]