Our Opinion

The second phase of the 111th Street streetscape project in Mt. Greenwood is set to begin in 2022 and be completed in 2023.

When finished, it will provide several benefits to the business district.

The first phase included 111th from Central Park to Homan avenues. The second phase covers 111th from Homan to Sacramento avenues, across the east portion of the neighborhood.

Construction season isn’t one that people look forward to, but this project will be worth the wait. Plans include widening sidewalks, resurfacing the roadway, adding crosswalk pavers, planting greenery and improving traffic flow.

On June 23, 19th Ward Ald. Matt O’Shea joined other city officials for a virtual public meeting to discuss the plans and gather feedback from residents. Notably, the second phase calls for widening sidewalks to 14 feet—resulting in narrower traffic lanes in that commercial corridor.

The lanes in both directions will be tighter, but officials said the modification will discourage motorists from passing other vehicles and speeding.

At some intersections, “bump outs” will be constructed to provide safer crossings for pedestrians.

The changes will likely get some motorists honked off, but the design of the streetscape is intended to make it safer and more enjoyable for local shoppers to support the local economy, which is the ultimate goal of the project.

The sidewalks from Homan to Kedzie are currently 12 feet wide, and from Kedzie to Sacramento, they’re 9 feet wide. The increased space will also accommodate the planting of trees and the potential for businesses to host outdoor service. Bike racks and benches are also part of the plan. The streetscape design seeks to make the business district more walkable, thereby attracting more customers.

Many businesses have already maximized the space they have—especially during the pandemic when outdoor space became precious. Providing larger sidewalks for pedestrians and customers is a step in the right direction.

According to O’Shea, the entire streetscape will cost $8 million. Design funding is coming from the local tax increment financing district, with construction funded by the state.

O’Shea and other local leaders hope that investing in the corridor will also attract new businesses to open on 111th Street.

The pandemic showed the strength and perseverance of businesses on 111th Street in bad times, and when the streetscape is completed in 2023, more good times will be on the way.