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See resident survey below following editorial
Proposal of a grade separation bridge at 1st and 5th Avenues to alleviate traffic congestion, improve commute times accessibility.
Sometimes building bridges can be hard, literally.
In the wake of the December 2016 opening of the 25th Avenue Bridge Project in Bellwood, which was designed to help corral the congestion among 52 freight trains, 59 Metra trains and thousands of vehicles, developers are hoping that the delayed Maywood grade separation may finally be on the road to construction.
“The desire to see this project move forward is there from the community of Maywood, we just need to receive the funding so that we can begin phase one,” said Peter Tsiolis, President of Strategic Project Management, Inc.
“Once we have the Mayor of Maywood and the Village Board on board, we can move forward with this project.”
The proposal calls for the construction of grade separations at 1st and 5th Avenues. Tsiolis says that among the many benefits of this plan would alleviate the traffic congestion from 1st and 5th Avenues and the Loyola University Medical Center. This added accessibility would improve travel times to the hospital and improve patient outcomes.
The grade separation could also improve travel times for students of Proviso East High School which is located on 1st Avenue and is difficult to reach when a slow moving train is blocking traffic to the school.
Additionally, the bridge would lower travel times, while increase vehicle traffic through the area, which would spur economic development in the area according to Tsiolis.
“When traffic begins to increase through the area, I think you will see more businesses interested in opening franchises in the area,” Tsiolis said.
“Another benefit would be the positive impact on the environment the grade separation would have,” Tsiolis said.
“With vehicles waiting for sometimes up to a half and hour for a train to pass and the guards to rise, there are many exhaust fumes being released into the environment which can create health hazards for community residents.”
For the process to move forward, there needs to be funding secured to complete a survey analyzing the practicality and “fit” of the construction proposal, from there the Maywood Village Board assess the findings and votes for or against moving forward with the plan.
If the project gets to this stage in the process, potential funding options are considered and pursued. The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) is just one source for securing funding for the bridge, if it is approved.
Maywood Mayor Edweena Perkins did not want to say much about the project at present, as it is still in its early stages of negotiation.
“The discussions are on-going,” Mayor Perkins said.
Tsiolis hopes that if the project is approved it will follow a similar path to completion as the 25th Street project. That project began from negotiations in the early 2000s, but the process slowed during the economic recession in 2008. However, in 2012 planning on the project began, ground was broken in 2014 and the project was completed with the bridge opening in 2016. This is the path that Tsiolis would like to see repeated with Maywood.
“Once all the approval is granted and funds are gathered, we think the project will come together quickly. We need to just make it happen.”
Randy Blankenhorn, then Illinois Transportation Secreatary, hailed the 25th Street project saying, “This new overpass pays immediate dividends for communities nearby, but its impact will be felt for years throughout the region.”
Discussions are expected to begin next week.
1st Ave Bridge Survey: Do you think a bridge development project to improve travel times, accessibility, and economic development would benefit the Village of Maywood? We’re asking Maywood residents,as well as residents of the Tri-Village (Bellwood and Broadview) to voice their opinions. Results of the survey will be provided anonymously to the Village’s of Maywood and Bellwood, and the results made public on the WSJ website. Your comments also will publish in the West Suburban Journal Print Edition. Citizen participation helps to make our communities more livable, and more vibrant and our government more accountable. Participate!