SECC begins traffic study

Staff Writer

The South East Chicago Commission has begun a study to determine what the developments along 53rd Street and in the neighborhood overall will do to the traffic in Hyde Park.

SECC executive director Wendy Walker Williams said the study came as a result of the 53rd Street Visioning Workshops. Traffic, parking and congestion are a major concern for many Hyde Parkers and often cited as reasons against plans for new businesses, construction or economic development.

Ald. Will Burns (4th) requested that the SECC put together the 4th Ward Hyde Park Parking and Transit Committee. The committee will oversee T.Y LIN Consulting and provide oversight and guidance to the study.

Williams said the study is being performed now at Ald. Will Burns’ (4th) request and because funding was available now.

“I think there’s perception and reality and hopefully this study will be able to clear up the perception v. reality of traffic in Hyde Park,” Williams said. “The goal of the study is to pull together some action strategies for the community to implement for each of the corridors.”

The study will explore two specific aspects of neighborhood traffic.

The first will be the 53rd Street/Lake Park Avenue corridor, which is defined as 53rd Street between South Ellis Avenue and South Hyde Park Boulevard; and South lake Park Avenue between East Hyde Park Boulevard (51st Street) and 55th Street.

The second will study the effects of the traffic developments in Hyde Park overall. The area is defined as bound by 47th Street, South Cottage Grove Avenue, 61st Street, Stony Island Avenue, 57th Drive and Lake Michigan. The study will look specifically at issues of access, egress and circulation within the area and will produce a transportation overview.

The study will look at current conditions in the corridors and provide a framework for the parking and transportation study. The steering committee will then recommend strategies for improving the corridors.

Improvements may include recommendations relating to bus shelters, sidewalks and crosswalks, signage, biking facilities, streetscape improvements, shared or consolidated parking, “control of parking demand through pricing” and parking requirements that will “encourage pedestrian-friendly development.”

“I think what is great about the study is that the scope of the work was designed by representation from all of the community groups,” Williams said. “It’s the SECC and the community doing the study together so what the community wants to get out of the study we definitely asked for.”

A public workshop will be held in February to gather community response and input.