Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park), Rep. Camille Lilly (D-Chicago) and Ald. Deborah Graham (29th) announced this week that the Illinois Department of Transportation is awarding a $225,000 planning grant for improvements to North Avenue between Central Avenue to Oak Park Avenue.
The impacts on Chicago Avenue and Madison Street along the same segment will also be considered in the North Avenue planning study to ensure a comprehensive look at the transportation system in the region.
The majority of the grant will come from state planning and research funds, supplemented by local matching dollars. The planning process funded by this grant to determine and provide guidance on transportation improvements will begin in 2015.
In other locations, these types of projects have eventually led to safety improvements, enhanced lighting, expanded medians and crosswalks, and beautification elements.
“This roadway is the heart of an important business district and is vital to many of the neighborhoods that I represent from Chicago to the western suburbs,” Harmon said in a statement.
Judith Alexander, chair of the North Avenue Zoning and Development Advisory Committee (NAZDAC) and co-founder of the North Avenue Neighbors Association of Oak Park (NANA-OP), said the groups are delighted the grant was awarded.
“We’ve long believed that North Avenue needs a revitalization plan, and now that will be possible. This will mean a great deal to Chicago and Oak Park residents living near North Avenue,” Alexander said in a statement.
In the past, state funding has been secured for streetscape improvements from Harlem to Oak Park Avenues. Sen. Harmon and Graham, then serving as state representative, have long advocated and hoped the same types of improvements would be extended further east into Chicago.