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City declares Western Avenue makeover complete

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The $27 million project was completed one month ahead of schedule

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Just a year after demolition started on the old Western Avenue flyover at the busy intersection of Belmont, Clybourn, and Western avenues, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has acknowledged the formal conclusion of the major reconstruction project a month ahead of schedule and on budget.

The former viaduct, which was constructed in 1961 to help ease traffic and congestion passing through the Riverview amusement park, had deteriorated over the decades and was deemed to be "structurally deficient" by inspectors in the years before its demolition.

Demolition of the overpass began in March 2016, reducing Western Avenue to single lanes in each direction. The project to develop Western, which spans a 1.25 mile stretch of Western Avenue from Waveland Avenue on the North to Logan Boulevard on the south, features a reconstructed roadway with two travel lanes in each direction during off peak hours, and three lanes in each direction in rush hour periods through the use of the curbside parking lanes.

New medians with simple landscaping and trees now occupy much of the center of Western Avenue along the path of the former viaduct. Despite the effort put into the $27.3 million project, transit advocates suggest that more could have been done to make the stretch more pedestrian and bicycle friendly.