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City of Chicago finalizes transportation goals for North Branch Industrial Corridor

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Smart traffic signals, new bridges, a transitway system, and a 606 Trail extension could all be in the cards

Chicago Department of Planning and Development

As Chicago’s city planners work to put the finishing touches on a comprehensive plan to guide future land use within Chicago’s evolving North Branch Industrial Corridor, residents and other neighborhood stakeholders have made their concerns regarding a lack of dedicated public park space and potential traffic issues widely known. Addressing the latter, Chicago’s Department of Planning and Development (DPD) has released a specific list of transportation goals and improvements for the corridor’s near, mid, and long-term future.

Aimed at providing better access for all transportation modes—including cars, buses, trains, bicycles, and pedestrians—while also acknowledging east-west vehicular choke points created by a limited number of access points across the river, the city planners have arrived at a number of recommendations.

While previous North Branch meetings presented a number of possible solutions and “what if” scenarios for the historically industrial land straddling the Chicago River between Kinzie and Fullerton, the following list represents a culmination of the feedback received and what planners think is feasible:

  • Reconstruction of existing vehicular bridges at Webster Street, Cortland Avenue, Chicago Avenue, and both bridges at Division Street
  • The study of possible new vehicular bridges at Southport Avenue and at Blackhawk Street
  • New pedestrian/bicycle bridges at streets that currently dead-end near the river, including Weed, Erie, Blackhawk, Hobbie, Southport, Clifton and Ogden
  • A 606 Trail extension connecting to a new river trail
  • Viaduct reconstruction at Ashland and Cortland; also on Halsted Street at Chicago
  • A “smart signal” system that assesses, predicts, and manages traffic volumes through coordinated traffic control devices
  • An upgraded Metra station at Clybourn Avenue
  • And a new multi-modal public transit-way through the length of the corridor
Chicago Department of Planning and Development

As illustrated in the slides above, some of these improvements—such as the “intelligent” stoplight system—could be implemented in one to five years. Others, like the complete overhaul of the Clybourn Metra station, could be two decades off.

Though public North Branch Corridor meetings have been taking place for nearly one year, time has almost expired for any Chicagoans still looking to weigh-in or have their questions answered. In fact, the final North Branch Framework open house is scheduled to take place today between 4:00 and 6:00 PM at St. John Cantius Church, located at 825 N. Carpenter Street.