Improvements will add to safety for school children, enhance traffic flow
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle today joined County Commissioner John Daley, Oak Lawn Village President Dr. Sandra Bury and other officials and residents in breaking ground for a road project at Southwest Highway and Central Avenue in Oak Lawn that will improve safety for school children and motorists as well as improve traffic flow through the area.
With more than 100 crashes reported at this heavily traveled southwest suburban intersection during the past decade, the County, at the urging of Commissioner Daley, has acted to cover the entire $1.6 million cost of intersection improvements, Preckwinkle said. The intersection is adjacent to St. Gerald parish and its school, and is used by hundreds of school children and their parents daily.
The intersection also lies along an existing Pace bus route that serves students from Queen of Peace and St. Lawrence High Schools.
“We agree with Commissioner Daley and President Bury that keeping children safe and preventing more accidents are priorities for the County, and that without our involvement, this much-needed project would continue to be delayed,” Preckwinkle said. “We are pleased that due to action of the County Board, work on these important improvements can now proceed.”
“Working together with President Preckwinkle and President Bury, I am pleased that this project is now under way. This is a shining example of the progress that comes from all levels of government working together for a common goal,” said Commissioner Daley.
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 will also include curb and gutter removal and replacement, drainage improvements and adjustments, sidewalk repairs and landscaping. Modernization of the existing traffic lights is also planned, with new LED signals and pedestrian countdown timers included in the project.
“I want to thank Commissioner John Daley and President Toni Preckwinkle for their hard work and dedication to the safety of our residents. This project has been a long time in the making and would not have happened if not for their decision to fund it and see it through to completion,” said Village President Bury.
Throughout the duration of the project, traffic along Central and on the Southwest Highway approaches to the intersection will be reduced to one lane in each direction. Motorists are advised to drive carefully and expect delays or seek alternate routes in order to avoid construction. CCDoTH officials have worked with St. Gerald to develop a brochure to illustrate the preferred travel path for those walking and driving to assist parents and students in their daily routine for the arrival and dismissal of school. Much of the intersection work is expected to be completed by the end of 2014.
“This is a great example of the County being able to work with the village of Oak Lawn, which purchased the right of way for the widening, and the parish on an important project to increase safety in this area,” Preckwinkle said