The County will pick up the entire $1.6 million in construction costs to widen Central Avenue at Southwest Highway and add left turn lanes at the intersection. A previous agreement split the cost 50/50 between Oak Lawn and the County. But due to the Village’s fiscal constraints and a strong desire to move the project forward because of serious safety concerns, the County will pick up the construction cost. The Village of Oak Lawn will purchase the property required to widen Central Avenue at the intersection.
“The County decided to step up its commitment because the project would have been delayed for years without adequate funding,” President Preckwinkle said. “Commissioner John Daley persuaded the County Board to increase funding because he was concerned for the safety of people walking and driving through the intersection. We agreed that keeping our children safe and preventing more accidents was a priority for the County.”
“Working together with the community and with St. Gerald Parish, I am pleased to support this project to bring needed safety improvements to the surrounding neighborhood,” Commissioner John Daley said.
John Yonan, Superintendent of the Cook County Department of Transportation and Highways, said that accident data for the intersection supported adding a left turn lane. More than 100 crashes have occurred at the intersection between 2005 and 2011. The installation of left turn lanes is expected to reduce the number of sideswipe and turning accidents. St. Gerald Parish and School are located on the southeast corner of Central Avenue, which is under County jurisdiction. The intersection is also along a PACE bus route that serves Queen of Peace High School and St. Lawrence High School.
“The Village of Oak Lawn thanks Cook County and especially Commissioner Daley and Superintendent Yonan for taking the lead on this important public safety project in our community,” Oak Lawn Village Manager Larry Deetjen said. “This partnership illustrates how various government units working together can solve problems.”
As part of the project, the existing traffic signal at the intersection will be modernized with new equipment, including LED signals and a pedestrian countdown signal.