Lincoln, Belmont, and Ashland: Upcoming changes to the intersection

The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) could begin reconstruction of the Lincoln Belmont Ashland (LBA) intersection as early as the spring of 2021, according to Alderman Waguespack. The Lakeview Chamber of Commerce (LVCC) has confirmed this, and CDOT indicated to them that they will be asking for “final comments” on the plan before construction begins. South Lakeview Neighbors (SLN), working with other community groups, is trying to arrange a public meeting with CDOT with regards to the plans for LBA.

Image from https://chi.streetsblog.org/, linked below.

This process has been going on since 2015. Most recently, CDOT held a meeting in February of 2018 and promised another meeting to review comments presented by SLN and others. That meeting has yet to take place.

Why is CDOT rebuilding the intersection? Their first goal is to make it more pedestrian friendly and safe. It is SLN’s contention that while those changes will reduce the length of the cross-intersection walks, it does so by reducing the traffic that the LBA intersection can handle, over-restricts turns, and diverts traffic through side streets that are not designed to handle such levels of traffic, especially streets like Barry, Paulina, School, and Greenview.

SLN would like your comments and observations from our membership before the “final comment” meetings occur. To that end, we have posted this as an issue for your review and posted three documents for your review: (1) a survey from 2019, (2) a memo for a meeting with Alderman Waguespack and (3) a letter to the Alderman. This has been going on since 2016, as documented by StreetsBlog Chicago in a summary article and in detail in an earlier piece.

Please review the information posted here and use the comments below to discuss. We will present your input to both CDOT and the Alderman.

Thank you for your attention.

— The officers and directors of South Lakeview Neighbors

27 thoughts on “Lincoln, Belmont, and Ashland: Upcoming changes to the intersection

  1. Valerie Berstene says:

    I support these changes to the intersection. Our city should be doing everything in its power to achieve Vision Zero – no injury or loss of life from car crashes is acceptable. CDOT’s studies showed this as the 5th most dangerous intersection in the entire city! By implementing CDOT’s proposed changes we can provide better safety and a higher quality of life for the neighborhood while balancing the role these major streets play as arteries within the city. One the great benefits of a grid-system to our city streets is that no one pathway has to bear the burden of all the traffic. While eliminating left turns at this intersection may pose an inconvenience as drivers learn new patterns, it delivers on the greater vision of safe mobility for all people- whether in cars, on bikes, or on foot. The traffic diverted to other streets can be managed as drivers learn to anticipate the traffic pattern plan their routes via other neighborhood streets-not just the ones closest to this intersection. Implementing these improvements, recapturing pavement dedicated solely to the purpose of moving through traffic faster, and repurposing it as space for people will ultimately improve safety and increase nearby property values for the neighborhood.

    • There was some discussion of that an an earlier meeting (2016? 2017?) but there’s just not enough room for a multi-lane roundabout without removing some buildings, according to the CDOT engineers.

  2. Since the initial meetings with CDOT until the Public Meeting in Spring 2018, CDOT was alerted that a NO LEFT TURN at Lincoln Ave. would force traffic to the side streets. After the changes were made, at an SLN Membership Meeting, Burley School Principal Cathy Plocher confirmed that traffic increased in front of the school and that the intersection of Barry and Paulina had become very crowded with additional car traffic. Recently, I questioned a UPS delivery driver as to what he thought of the NO LEFT TURN. He said he hated it because anytime he had a delivery on Lincoln Ave near the LBA intersection, he would then have grind his BIG BROWN TRUCK through the neighborhood side streets in order to eventually go east or west on Belmont. Barry Ave. heading west is already over used because you cannot turn left on Belmont Ave. I feel that CDOT used very little imagination in making the intersection changes and they need to go back to the drawing board to make the intersection traffic efficient and pedestrian safe. I suggest people go take a look at the Lincoln/Fullerton/Halsted intersection and note the clear street markings, allowed left turns on all the streets and the pull back of parking spaces from the intersection to enable the traffic flow.

  3. Do not route traffic to Paulina or School or any residential side street. There is a day care at Paulina and school. Figure out routing traffic to main streets or Addison Damen Southport and Diversey.

  4. The intersection of Paulina and School is tremendously clogged during morning rush hour, so diverting more traffic to both streets will create even worse backups and even worse driver behavior trying to get around the jam, just as people are walking their kids to school and dropping kids off at the Montessori at the intersection. This is dangerous.

    Plus, encouraging traffic to go on Paulina is troubling. The street is generally not built for that much traffic, people already speed down what is a residential street, and the intersection south of Lincoln is a mess with confused drivers blocking it, not understanding it’s two ways.

    I hope these concerns are addressed in these plans…I fear we are pushing annoyed traffic onto residential streets, creating new safety hazards.

    Thank you.

  5. Ethan Saltzberg says:

    As someone living within walking distance of this intersection, it’s amazing that people are more concerned with keeping eight lanes of car and truck traffic than they are with safety. This is not a highway junction, it’s a commercial district with small businesses that need foot traffic to survive (probably a contributing factor to all the vacant storefronts).
    So let’s build more pedestrian safety, streetscaping, and restrictions on left turns. Streets like Barry and Greenview won’t be handling much new traffic, it will go to Diversey, Addison, Damen, etc because driving thru-routes will avoid this intersection entirely.
    Look at North/Damen/Milwaukee. Sure, there’s plenty of car traffic in rush hour, but that intersection is way safer and that means more foot traffic to the businesses there.
    Build this plan – and maybe put some cheap barriers on the bike lanes to make them even safer!

  6. Generally I am in support of the proposal. I do think it will direct and manage traffic more successfully while making for a more attractive shared space. The no left turn regulation may seem unrealistic since CDOT’s proposed alternate routes require travelers to know this is prohibited in advance of reaching that intersection. However, those living near this intersection, or who frequently travel through it, will come to learn the acceptable routes, and since most people use navigation software when not familiar with local streets, this software already incorporates this restriction and recommends appropriate routes. The specific blocks of Barry and School (and potentially Greenview and Paulina for those who over shoot the intersection) that would see increased traffic should be able to accommodate this traffic as they are not highly residential nor commercial with most building frontage on other streets. I feel the suggestion of periodic traffic control presence for ticketing and enforcement, especially at high volume periods, is a good one. This will reinforce that regulation amongst frequent travelers and cause new behaviors to be learned.
    The only concern I have is the original proposal also included streetscaping south on Lincoln through to Wellington and east on Belmont and south and north on Ashland to improve the surrounding area as well. These areas would greatly benefit from improved streetscaping (trees, sidewalks and street furniture) since some sidewalks are in bad shape and the area continues to struggle with vacancies and blight. The sidewalks on Greenview between Belmont and Lincoln/Barry are also in considerable need of repair on both sides of the street. I would hope that these needs could be addressed at the same time particularly if the goal is to increase pedestrian traffic. A more pleasant environment in which to walk and a more attractive space to invite local business would go a long way towards making this a more inviting space for pedestrians and business.

  7. 1) The Kick outs just bring pedestrians closer to traffic
    2) The lights on Ashland from School all to Barry south/north to Wellington are extremely ill timed. They do not create free traffic flow which is one of the problems not only of this intersection but traffic in the city as a whole The the analog Technology sometimes get out of time , cant change due to different traffic conditions. we are reconfiguring why cant we spend money on a smart traffic system
    3) There is no feed back or experience from neighbors or business on the kick outs from existing kick outs. why
    4) You start narrowing Ashland and now you have buses and trucks that can not pass one each other it is so narrow causing a moving bottle neck . Ashland is a premier street for commercial ie trucks and other non car vehicles to deliver goods to stores,

  8. The proposed reconstruction of this intersection will result in nothing but increased congestion, of both cars and bikes. It is rare time that Lincoln Avenue doesn’t have at least a full block of traffic waiting to cross the intersection on both the north and south side of Belmont, and numerous cars are already diverting to side streets not intended for thru traffic. Burley, Melrose, Paulina, and Barry are used like major thoroughfares.

    There were similar arguments about the Belmont/Western/Clybourn intersection and they have all proven out to be true. Traffic on both Western and Belmont is hideous, there are constant cars speeding through the side streets trying to get around the traffic, endangering residents walking and biking. It’s only a matter of time until the constant u-turns and illegal lefts result in fatalities.

    Don’t make another mess of another major intersection under the false premise of that it is an improvement for the neighborhood.

  9. My 3 comments/issues are:

    1. There should be a CPD officer at this intersection (which I have been told is the 2nd most dangerous intersection in the city – and that is for drivers and pedestrians) 7 days a week to issue moving violation tickets:
    a. From 6:00 am to 10:00 pm,
    b. I have told Alderman Scott Waguespack this a couple years ago,
    c. Would generate at least $5,000 a day in fines, and
    d. Cause the intersection to be safer for pedestrians and drivers

    2. The driver/controller on or using any and all types of “vehicles” (i.e., bikes – manual or motorized, scooters, motorized/electronic skateboards, etc.) on the street should have (carried) and have on them an identification card that represents that they have legally pasted a test to confirm they know the Rules of the Road:
    a. Many of these people:
    i. Do not know what the Rules of the Road are (i.e., it is illegal for electronic scooters and adult bikers to be on the
    sidewalk – any too many do not even know this and will tell you that is not the law), or
    ii. If they do, they do not follow them.
    b. When they own a “moving violation” the CPD Officer can ask to see their card:
    i. To see their name for issuing a moving violation ticket, or
    ii. Have them arrested for driving without a license
    c. Also issue for stopped vehicles at lights:
    i. That are in the middle of the pedestrian walkway, causing pedestrians to have to walk in the intersection where
    cars are driving, and/or
    ii. When the driver is using their cell phone

    3. These items also apply to many of the 3-way streets on Lincoln Avenue also

  10. David Grayson Duggan says:

    The no-walk flashing sign across Ashland while Lincoln has the green is inexplicable and commonly ignored. As a frequent cyclist through that intersection, the merger of the bike lane NW from Belmont to Lincoln is dangerous. There is no room for a cyclist on the 2 WB lanes of Belmont. The right-turn vehicular lane WB on Belmont eats up all the pavement, shunting cyclists to the sidewalk in front of Whole Foods. A cyclist going straight W on Belmont has to sandwich himself between cars. The plastic bollards are commonly broken and not replaced. If the city is serious about encouraging cycling and discouraging 4-wheeled vehicles, put steel bollards there. After a few mishaps motorists will get the message.

  11. Shouldn’t we be moving away from auto traffic? It seems most of your complaints could be better resolved by encouraging people to give up their vehicles and reducing the traffic on the streets.

    We shouldn’t be making it easier for people to drive through the city. We definitely shouldn’t be getting rid of bike lanes.

  12. Maria Bernardi says:

    I agree with what seems to be the consensus – taking away the left turn signals will send traffic up Greenview and School (and other side streets), streets that cannot tolerate heavier traffic. We live at Greenview and Wellington, and Wellington is often backed up from Lincoln to Greenview since the new ‘pedestrian seating’ intersection at Wellington and Lincoln was developed. If there were increased traffic on Greenview it would be a disaster.

  13. It’s amazing that in a city where we’re supposed to walk that everyone is concerned with auto traffic. This is a dangerous intersection that needs traffic calming. It’s funny, everyone feared awful traffic when the Belmont flyover at Western was taken down, but that traffic never materialized. Also, the traffic calming at Wellington and Lincoln HAS made the intersection safer, and I’m looking forward to the same at this intersection. Maybe drive a bit less and walk more, add some vitality to the neighborhood, shops at the intersection have been vacant long before the pandemic, it’s not really a concern of mine that people transit through the neighborhood faster.

  14. The traffic volume on Ashland is going to be slowed by this configuration, maybe significantly so. Is the new plan strategically designed as a precursor to future bus expansion along Ashland — along the lines of CTA’s previously floated dual-lane, high-capacity buses?

  15. The CDOT proposal looks good. Changes that widen sidewalks and eliminate parking typically improve the pedestrian experience. Drivers will probably not want to use the side streets; they will eventually learn to use bigger streets, walk, or take public transportation.

    Related, let’s try to improve our quality of life and safety by insisting that police enforce existing traffic laws for delivery trucks and distracted drivers.

  16. Taking away left turns from Lincoln onto Belmont will lead to an absolute disaster. First, as is often the case where left turns are prohibited, people will ignore the rule causing huge backups and tons of honking. It will also lead to tons of additional traffic on side streets such as Barry, which already gets way more traffic than any residential side street should ever have.

    I assume that right turns from Ashland are only going to prohibited onto Lincoln and not onto Belmont, but this too is another pending disaster. Cars will still try to turn onto Lincoln, and if you are heading northbound and need to turn you will need to turn onto Wellington two blocks south to do so legally (another residential street).

    Basically what this plan is doing is building 3 bridges (like the one we used to have at Western, Clybourne, and Belmont, without physically building bridges. Each street simply goes straight, so you have a completely disconnected neighborhood for cars. You could still allow pedestrians walking along Belmont to cross both streets more efficiently with the current layout, and that is a good idea.

    Of course, from a business point of view, this intersection and Lincoln Ave are already dead, so I suppose that doing this would just be the final nail in the coffin. Perhaps its time for the city to consider rezoning Lincoln as residential only as it is clear they do not want businesses to succeed on this stretch.

  17. I do not support eliminating many of the left turns. I am opposed to any changes that funnel more traffic into the side streets, residential neighborhoods and school zones. This is extremely dangerous in a high density area. Ultimately the point of an intersection is to move traffic through the area without sending cars into the neighborhoods. The point of having main thoroughfares is also to move traffic more efficiently without crowding side streets. The intersection of Barry and Paulina has become extremely congested and is heavily used by children heading to Burley, causing a dangerous situation. I would like CDOT to address that as well as the congestion on Melrose and Paulina. Fully utilizing the LBA intersection will help keep traffic out of the neighborhoods.

    I also think the “seating” areas are unnecessary. Sidewalk cafes are great but who wants to sit out in the intersection, much closer to traffic and fumes, unless they’re waiting for a bus? I have yet to see anyone ever sit on the concrete seating on Wellington/Lincoln.

  18. I’m not in favor of reducing anymore turn lanes. They are needed. Maybe allow for more left turn lights. but as stated above, I think the intersection is working pretty well as is, even if the left turn arrow south on Ashland after the red light confuses some people the first time thru.

  19. My advice is to leave the intersection as-is. It FINALLY works with traffic and most pedestrians would have to cross only two well-marked paths to get through. Pretty good for a 6 way intersection. Also, the City frankly has more important priorities financially right now than to spend a lot of time and money on something trivial like this.

  20. Leo M. Karall Sr. says:

    I agree with Mr. Stern’s “NO LEFT TURN” comment (Lincoln to Belmont). It is mostly ignored.
    Also If LBA intersection is going to get the “PLASTIC Bollards” like Lincoln/Wellington Southport, I believe you’ll create a bottleneck/backup of Vehicular Traffic. The restriction of a “traffic lane” in any direction will only cause vehicular traffic to backup. These so called safe zones for pedestrians are not effective for traffic flow. Pockets has set up dinning tables in these safety zones at Lincoln and Southport. I can’t believe in good conscience how these safety zones are improving safety? Also it seems that striping lane delineations must be MORE visible. When striping fades at a MAJOR intersection such as LBA refreshing striping is a MUST! Funds from CDOT or OEMC must be allocated in order for SAFTEY sake of both Pedestrians and Vehicular Traffic. OEMC Traffic monitors might help also.

  21. If one cannot turn from Lincoln onto Belmont, where does that traffic go? Barry and School?

    Will there be adequate signage? The current no-left-turn signs are ignored. There need to be highly visible signs well before the intersection.

    • Mr. Stern, Thank you for raising this issue and your service to our community. I agree with your comment on left turns from Lincoln to Belmont..

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