Three-year-old construction plan begins on Sheridan Road


Noah Frick-Alofs/The Daily Northwestern

Construction on Sheridan Road. The $13.3 million project began Monday and will last until mid-October of next year.

Victoria Cabales, Reporter

Evanston began construction on Sheridan Road on Monday, kicking off a $13.3 million plan that includes a protected bike lane, which will run from the intersection of Ridge Avenue and Isabella Street to Grove Street.

“We’re giving each mode of transportation a space to travel,” said Sat Nagar, the city’s senior project manager. “It’ll be much safer for bikers.”

Nagar said the current condition of the road is “pretty battered” and in need of significant improvement. Along with the addition of a bike lane, the Chicago Avenue-Sheridan Road Project includes pavement construction, gutter replacement and traffic light modernization.

Kevin Wilson, engineer at Christopher B. Burke Engineering Ltd., said Evanston residents should anticipate delays during construction. Only one lane of traffic in each direction will remain open on Sheridan Road while crews are working, hindering regular commutes, he said.

Wilson also said there may be difficulty finishing the project on time as the timeline has been condensed.

To compensate for the shorter time frame, the construction workers assigned to the project are required to work 12 hours per day, as opposed to 10. Their work week will also be increased from five days per week to six, Wilson said.

“It’s an aggressive schedule right now to work around the Northwestern calendar,” Wilson said.

Because the project is still in its early stages of development, Wilson couldn’t say whether any problems will arise. However, he said the workers are used to having longer hours, as the construction season of Illinois is shortened by winter weather conditions.

Nagar said the project has been broken down into three phases. Phase one includes construction on Chicago Avenue from Grove Street to Sheridan Road, and will last until early June. Phase two will last from June until September and will include Sheridan Road from Chicago Avenue to Lincoln Street.

The last phase will begin in April 2018 and last until mid-October of that year, reconstructing the stretch of Sheridan Road from Lincoln Street to the intersection of Ridge Avenue and Isabella Street.

Once completed, the project will rebuild 1.9 total miles of roadway, Nagar said.
Most of the funding for the project comes from the city, but Northwestern contributed to the project by donating $500,000 from the 2015 “Good Neighbor Fund.” The fund is an agreement between Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl and University President Morton Schapiro, in which the University donates $1 million annually to the city for five years, beginning in 2015.

Associated Student Government President Christina Cilento said she is excited about the project, especially about the construction of new bike lanes. The SESP senior has been involved in several projects regarding bike safety, such as giving free helmets in November through ASG.

Cilento said the implementation of the Chicago Avenue-Sheridan Road Project is especially significant after the death of Weinberg first-year Chuyuan “Chu” Qiu last fall. Although it cannot be determined if bike lanes could have prevented Qiu’s death, Cilento said the lanes are an important safety measure.

“As someone who bikes around campus, Chu’s death in the fall had hit me really hard,” Cilento said. “Students are risk takers, and they don’t really think of their safety as they walk across campus. Any type of infrastructure that we can provide is really necessary.”

This story has been updated to clarify that the construction plan is three years old and that the timeline extends into fall 2018. This story has also been updated to reflect that one lane of traffic will be open in each direction on Sheridan Road.

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