Proposed reconfigured intersection of Damen and Fullerton avenues. (handout )
The proposed reconfiguration of the six-way intersection of Fullerton, Damen and Elston avenues cleared its first hurdle Wednesday.
The City Council Committee on Housing and Real Estate advanced an ordinance that would give the city authority to begin acquiring nine parcels of property – none of them residential – to improve the intersection.
The $43 million project centers around re-routing Elston Avenue to reduce traffic congestion, spur economic development and eliminate one of the city’s most accident-prone intersections, city officials said.
Every day, more than 70,000 vehicles pass through the intersection, which is ranked among the top five crash locations in the city, officials said.
Drivers often wait a while to make a turn or get through the intersection and sometimes get stuck in the middle of intersection. All that backs up traffic even more.
"Then you got a cluster-you-know-what in the middle of it on a hot day in July at 5 p.m. when everybody wants to get out of the car and kill each other," Ald. Richard Mell (33rd) said at the committee meeting.
The city said it is working with businesses including WhirlyBall to relocate them.
WhirlyBall, which has been located on Fullerton Avenue for 17 years, is looking to close on a nearby property in the next 45 days where they plan to build a new facility, said president Sam Elias.
"Initially, it was a shock because we've been here so long and we're happy here and we're successful. But at the end of the day once we're in the new digs, it's going to be a much better facility," he said.
He said he plans to move to the new location in September 2014.
The city's project will use tax-increment financing money, federal highway funds and matching state funds, officials said.
Construction is expected to start in the fall of 2014 and last two years.
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