The intersection of Central Avenue and Southwest Highway in Oak Lawn has been returned to full use as improvements underwritten by Cook County largely wrapped up this week.
The heavily traveled intersection, which had seen more than 100 crashes over the past decade, now has a five-lane configuration and includes new left turn lanes on Central. Temporary traffic signals remain for the time being but will be replaced as electrical work on permanent fixtures is completed weather permitting. Landscape restoration is also ongoing.
Work on the intersection, which is adjacent to St. Gerald parish and its school and is used by hundreds of school children and their parents daily, started in early October and was funded with $1.6 million in County funds. Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and County Commissioner John Daley, D-Chicago, were joined by Oak Lawn Village President Sandra Bury and other village officials, as well as state legislators and parish leaders, for a groundbreaking ceremony.
“This is an excellent example of a public safety project that grew from multiple levels of government working together,” Preckwinkle said.
According to data collected by the Cook County Department of Transportation and Highways (CCDoTH), the number of accidents at the intersection supported adding left turn lanes on Central, which are expected to reduce the number of sideswipes and turning crashes. Having the turn lanes will also result in better flow along the roadway for through traffic, said CCDoTH Superintendent John Yonan.
The project includes curb and gutter removal and replacement, drainage improvements and adjustments, sidewalk repairs and landscaping. Modern LED signals and pedestrian countdown timers are being installed as part of the project as well.
“I want to thank President Preckwinkle, Superintendent Yonan and the entire staff at the Department of Transportation and Highways,” said Commissioner Daley. “Without their hard work and dedication this project would have never gotten off the ground. Now residents will see a much safer and technologically advanced intersection.”