Hyde Parkers for Pedestrian Safety on 53rd Street

Mike Simon, Deputy Commissioner, CDOT

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Hyde Park residents are adversely impacted by a construction site that flagrantly violates noise ordinances and the terms of its permit. Inadequate pedestrian access to the Metra platform at 53rd Street is causing significant safety issues in our neighborhood. We believe that CDOT has treated our community inequitably in the permitting process and are requesting a prompt response from the city.

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To: Mike Simon, Deputy Commissioner, CDOT
From: [Your Name]

To whom it may concern:

By way of this petition, we are requesting swift correction from CDOT of your decision to close the north sidewalk on the 1600 block of South 53rd Street (between Cornell Avenue and Lake Park Avenue). We are also listing the several infractions we have noted on the site, and our suggestions for moving forward. The current state of affairs is unbearable, unacceptable, unsafe, and shows deep contempt for Hyde Park residents.

This sidewalk closure is dangerous. CDOT justifies this closure by saying that for liability reasons, CDOT must discourage mid-block crossings on 53rd Street between Cornell and the viaduct. However, by preventing crossings here, CDOT is effectively encouraging pedestrians to engage in much more dangerous actions. Schoolchildren climbing over Metra’s sidewalk barriers below the viaduct are a common sight. Multiple residents have lodged concerns with CDOT about jaywalking beneath the viaduct and at its western entrance.

CDOT staff have told residents that this is not CDOT’s concern, provided there is adequate signage and other deterrent measures (such as fencing) to prevent jaywalking. Staff insist that the signed detour is a safe and adequate replacement. This is untrue.

The detour route is unsafe. The marked crosswalk across Lake Park on the north side of the street is unsafe because it is effectively a blind right turn for motorists. The southwest curb at the intersection of 53rd and Lake Park has significant damage and is therefore not ADA compliant or safe. There are no working streetlights between Cornell and the viaduct on either side of the street.

The detour route is an inadequate replacement. Pedestrians must detour over 800 feet, then cross Lake Park Avenue twice (up to six separate street crossings for those approaching from the southeast). Crossing signal patterns on Lake Park Avenue alone add over 90 seconds to the detour. Many train users choose to exit at 51st Street due to safety issues with the detour, adding two additional blocks to their route.

We are astonished that CDOT has approved this detour until well into 2019. We believe it is inevitable that a pedestrian will be struck in their efforts to avoid dangerous blind crossings, dangerous sidewalks, and excessive pedestrian signal delays. We are incredulous that CDOT is willing to allow these conditions to continue provided there is no technical legal liability identified by your office.

In addition to the issues with this sidewalk closure, the construction site is a neighborhood nuisance. Contractors have placed three trailers on the sidewalk on the north side of 53rd below the viaduct, in violation of the terms of their permit. Subcontractors, including Adjustable Forms, regularly begin construction and/or operate heavy machinery outside of the permitted hours for the site. Noise ordinance violations occur almost daily.

We are calling for CDOT to immediately undertake the following corrective actions:

• Regular enforcement of the relevant noise ordinances at this construction site, particularly in the early morning. If CDOT will not send an inspector daily to observe the site, we want CDOT to communicate with our neighborhood police and impress upon them the importance of ticketing noise ordinance violations at this site.
• Daily citations to Linn-Mathes until the three illegally placed trailers in the right-of-way below the viaduct are removed.
• Installation of actuated pedestrian signals at South Lake Park and 53rd and 51st, with re-timing of traffic signals to accommodate increased pedestrian traffic across Lake Park. These are streets with entrances to Metra platforms. At the intersection of 51st and Lake Park, the time allocated for pedestrians to cross 53rd is higher than the time allowed to cross Lake Park - a street that is twice as wide.
• Immediate repair of the broken streetlight on the construction site.
• Immediate replacement of the damaged curb on the southwest corner of Lake Park and 53rd.

We are further calling for CDOT to communicate meaningfully with Hyde Park residents about this project, including but not limited to:

• Providing a response to this petition that includes a list of comparable CDOT-permitted projects. This would demonstrate to our community that we have been treated on par with other neighborhoods.
• Meeting with residents to explain in depth why a temporary sidewalk cannot be constructed on this site.

Thank you for your consideration.