On Sept. 18, the Oak Park Village Board will consider a proposal to redesign Madison Street into a three-lane road (two travel lanes + a left hand turn lane) with wider sidewalks and parkways, safer crosswalks, bike lanes, and streetscape improvements. Madison would become less like Harlem and North Avenues and more like two-lane roads such as Chicago and Ridgeland Avenues.
The project would create a safer, greener, more attractive and walkable street, and it would be funded in part with more than $7 million in TIF funds that are dedicated to improvements on and along Madison.
For more information about this project, read Active Trans' Q&A blog post. send an email to the Oak Park Village Board to let them know that you want a Madison St. that is safer, quieter, more attractive and a better fit for the community.
Why does Madison Street need a makeover?
- Not safe, with 2 crashes every 3 days. Cars speed and weave, and rear-end collisions are common when cars back up behind left-turning cars. A three-lane configuration would be safer because it limits lane changes and traffic flows more evenly and at speeds appropriate for the neighborhood. A narrower street, along with crosswalk improvements, would make it safer for people on foot and bike to cross, including students who cross Madison to reach the four schools within one block of Madison.
- Too wide for the amount of traffic it carries. Four-lane Madison carries the same number of cars (18,000 per day) as Ridgeland (18,000 per day), which is only two lanes and works just fine. Moreover, the improved Madison Street would have a left-hand turn lane at each intersection, whereas Ridgeland does not. Madison would not be narrowed between Home to Harlem and Lombard to Austin, in order to accommodate cars turning onto Harlem and Austin. Traffic engineers say narrowing Madison would not significantly add time to the drive between Austin and Harlem.
- Not good for business and residential development. Four-lane roads work best with big box stores, strip malls and parking lots out front. But the lots on Madison are too shallow and the car traffic too light to attract this type of development. On the other hand, the street is too wide and cars move too fast to attract residential and commercial development that is typical of two-lane streets in Oak Park. Madison’s design doesn’t do either approach well, which contributes to the tired hodgepodge of empty lots, empty buildings and fast food.