Construction of high-rise on 53rd and Cornell causing safety concerns

The new construction project going up on 53rd Street and Cornell Avenue just east of Lake Park Avenue. – Spencer Bibbs

Herald Intern

Several Hyde Park residents have expressed concern about the dangers of the construction happening on 53rd Street and Cornell Avenue. The high-rise being constructed at the intersection has significantly obstructed the pedestrian access to the 53rd Street Metra station and foot traffic has been re-routed to the south side of 53rd.

Heather Dalmage, a Hyde Park resident, noted that the streetlights east of the Metra tracks on 53rd were turned off near the time construction began. “This has meant that pedestrians are forced to walk through a dark stretch” on the south side of the street “the exact place where the shooting took place,” she said.

Dalmage is referring to the June 15 shooting that occured near the intersection of Cornell Avenue and 53rd Street in which one person was killed and several were injured in what the University of Chicago Department of Safety and Security called a “potential targeted shooting.”

Dalmage added that she walks on the south side of 53rd near Cornell Avenue often. “My children are back and forth on that stretch while going to friends’ homes. I do not consider it safe for them to walk right now, precisely because of the rerouting of foot traffic and the lack of lighting at night,” she said.

When asked about the safety measures at the intersection, Mike Claffey, Director of Public Affairs for the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) said that “the permit for the sidewalk closure is expected to last until June 2019.” He also added that “there is no way to keep the sidewalk on the north side of 53rd Street open during construction.”

In April, Michael Simon of the CDOT mentioned that there “will be a pedestrian walkway placed in the curb lane with an Americans With Disabilities compliant ramp that can transition to the sidewalk just to the east of the viaduct column,” in a statement, but this is apparently no longer a possibility. The elevation from the street to the sidewalk is too great to allow for a ramp to be installed there,” said Claffey.

“I would note that the elevator that provides ADA access to the Metra station is at 51st Street,” he added.

The developer of the property Antheus Capital, which does business in Hyde Park through MAC Properties, could not be reached for comment.