CHICAGO | The intersection of 95th Street and Stony Island Avenue is a significant point of entry for those trying to get to the city's southeast side neighborhoods. But it's also a heavily-trafficked crossroads, made even more complicated by three sets of railroad tracks that cross the area as well.
As Illinois Department of Transportation officials contemplate a long-range plan to improve the area, state officials are seeking the advice of people who live there and suggestions on what changes should be made.
State transportation department officials held a public information meeting Tuesday at Olive Harvey College, 10001 S. Woodlawn Ave., in an initial attempt to gather information. After a video presentation, participants could ask questions of officials. They then were asked to suggest intersection improvements.
Participants also were given a chance to volunteer for a community advisory group that will continue to offer suggestions as the project continues. Potential members were advised they’d have to attend at least five daylong meetings during the upcoming year.
Marie Smith, who lives less than a mile north of the intersection, was interested in seeing what ideas state officials had for improving the flow of traffic through the intersection. She said its position at the northern end of the Bishop Ford Freeway causes motorists exiting the freeway to have to suddenly slow from high speeds.
“I want to know what they’re going to do to make it a safe intersection,” Smith said. “It is a very congested area.”
State officials said the intersection is considered a “5 percent crash location” when it comes to the number of accidents. IDOT officials said between 2005 and 2010, there were 523 vehicle crashes at the intersection, along with 27 more at the entrance to Stony Island Plaza one block east.
Another 59 crashes occurred two blocks north at 93rd Street and Stony Island Boulevard. While many of those crashes merely involved one car hitting the back of another, there were nine with severe injuries and two involved fatalities.
Officials are not sure when specific improvements to the intersection will be determined. IDOT consultant Kimberly Murphy said the General Assembly has yet to provide any funding for the project other than for initial studies.
“This is a long-term project,” she said, noting the project is complicated by railroad viaducts within a block north, west and south of the intersection.
“When you deal with railroads, that also tends to make it a lengthy process,” she said.