Help Move Main Street (Maple to Hinman) Toward a Complete Street

The first public meeting for comment on proposed improvements to Main Street between Maple and Hinman is scheduled for Wednesday, May 15 at Lincoln School at 7pm. This project includes roadway rehabilitation/reconstruction, water main replacement, sidewalk, streetscape, pedestrian crossings and street light improvements. The traffic signal at Main/Sherman intersection will also be modernized.  The City has applied for Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program (ITEP) Grant Funds for this project.

Two public meetings are required as part of Phase 1 for any project seeking public funds. Such meetings usually include design alternatives supplied by a consulting transportation planning/engineering firm formulated through discussion with city staff, officials and local stakeholders (usually representatives of businesses, residents and/or institutions most directly affected).

This six block stretch of roadway is heavily used and presents some tricky navigation for motorists, pedestrians and cyclists alike given the shops, restaurants, apartments and train stations/viaducts along it and nearby. We can do better!

One of the challenges in getting to the nirvana of Complete Streets (safe and accessible for all users regardless of transportation mode, age or mobility challenges) is that street improvement projects typically involve only a small portion of a longer stretch of road. It’s hard to achieve “complete” when decisions are made piecemeal but that is usually how funding becomes available. While it makes sense for those stakeholders in the immediate vicinity to have first input, we are ALL stakeholders for every street in Evanston - particularly the ones so many of us use often (like the Main Street business district).

Word has it that there will be some nice pedestrian-friendly improvements in the alternatives to be made available for public comment. How else can we make this key area more welcoming and safe? What trade-offs should be considered to balance the concerns of the businesses, services, residents, commuters and visitors along Main Street? We get what we design for. Let’s join the process to design for Complete Streets.

Posted by Barbara Miller