Construction begins on three-way Evanston intersection



The Emerson Street, Ridge Avenue and Green Bay Road intersection will be improved through the Emerson-Ridge-Green Bay Improvements Project. Construction on the project officially kicked off Wednesday.

Robin Opsahl, City Editor

An $11.1 million construction project started Wednesday at the intersection of Emerson Street, Ridge Avenue and Green Bay Road, despite ongoing problems with funding due to the state budget crisis.

Lapses in state funding for the project through Illinois Department of Transportation grants delayed the city in starting construction, as the city tried to find money to fill a $2.5 million funding gap left from expected grants, said Dave Stoneback, the city’s Public Works Agency director. Stoneback said $5 million of the $11.1 million spent on the project is funded through state grants.

Stoneback said the “high-accident corner,” where the three roads meet, is planned for a complete reconstruction, which includes installing new water mains, storm sewage and drainage structures, modernizing traffic signals and redoing the traffic lanes along Green Bay Road. These changes include correcting the elevation difference when coming from Green Bay Road going south or Ridge Avenue going north and making left turns onto Emerson Street, so drivers can more easily enter downtown, Stoneback said.

Because of the project’s size, construction may go past the planned mid-November end date, Stoneback said during a 2nd Ward meeting last Thursday.

“This is by far the largest project the city’s undertaking this summer,” Stoneback said. “I wouldn’t be at all surprised if there is some construction next year.”

The project will be conducted in four stages, closing specific sections of the three streets at a time to make sure there is at least one lane of traffic in each direction remaining active, according to a news release.

The project is planned to “create a friendlier route for pedestrians, bicyclists and public transit, and enhance aesthetics,” according to the release. Public safety at the intersection was a central concern for the project, as consultants proposed some of the changes based on where traffic accidents are likely to occur.

During construction, everyday vehicles are advised to take Church Street or alternate routes outside of the corridor, as the street under construction is a major truckway.

Stoneback said the city will try to address concerns about noise and early timing during construction. Additionally, street cleaning and neighborhood parking restrictions will be waived for a one-block radius around the work zone, he said.

“There’s a ton of construction going on in the 2nd Ward,” Ald. Peter Braithwaite (2nd) said. “It’s important people know what’s going on ward-wise and have a timeline.”

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Twitter: @robinlopsahl