Evanston officials seek ‘beautification’ for Chicago Avenue with streetscape plan

Jia You

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A 12-week streetscape project conducted by the City of Evanston will renovate Chicago Avenue and reroute the Northwestern intercampus shuttle.

The renovation, which began April 2, will improve roadway curbs, plantings and irrigation on Chicago Avenue from South Boulevard to Main Street. The project aims to improve aesthetics and pedestrian safety, said Sat Nagar, the city’s senior engineer.

“Chicago Avenue needs some beautification,” Nagar said. “It’s a gateway to the city.”

Northwestern’s southbound intercampus shuttle relocated its Chicago/Main stop to the northwest corner of Chicago Avenue and Main Street due to the construction. The project, to be completed mid-June, could also delay the shuttle. However, no delays have occurred during the first two weeks of construction, said Marge Grzeszczuk, the campus manager for NU’s Chicago campus.

“It shouldn’t be a significant impact,” Grzeszczuk said. “It’s just a matter of walking a couple steps further to the stop.”

The project is part of a larger effort to improve the city’s environment, Nagar said, adding that the city would carry out three other streetscape projects from June to October.

These projects would renovate the intersection of Dodge Avenue and Lake Street, Orrington Avenue between Church Street and Davis Street, and Church Street from Dodge Avenue to Chicago Avenue,Nagar said. Plans include replacing sidewalk bricks, building bike shelters and constructing a rain garden at Dodge and Lake to catch storm water runoff.

“It’s just an improvement on the quality of life and aesthetics,” he said.

Evanston resident Diane Glenn said the benefits of street improvement outweigh the inconveniences.

“Of course it’s going to affect all of us for a while,” Glenn said. “But hey, it’s an improvement. You have to live with it.”

However, Communication junior Stephanie Ernst said the effects of construction could be “frustrating.”

“(Streetscaping) is definitely a long-term project,” Ernst said. “You don’t see the immediate effect, so it’s just annoying.”

Grzeszczuk said the University’s shuttle service does not have a major relocation plan for these three projects, adding that the city’s and the University’s project managers have “a good line of communication.”

“Like any project, there might be surprises,” she said. “But I think … we have a pretty good coordination system to make sure that everything works out smoothly.”