On August 14, 2017, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel joined Illinois DOT Secretary of Transportation Randall Blankenhorn, Chicago DOT Commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld and several Illinois State Senators to celebrate the ribbon cutting for the new intersection of Damen, Fullerton and Elston Avenues. What was once an overly congested and accident-prone five-legged intersection is now a system of three redesigned intersections with a rerouted section of Elston Avenue, successfully relieving excessive queues and improving safety for vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists through the area.
Benesch led efforts for both the Phase I and Phase II design of this project.
As part of the Phase I study, Benesch conducted a Value Planning exercise in conjunction with the City to evaluate a previously completed Intersection Improvement Evaluation Report which suggested the construction of a new underpass carrying east-west traffic on Fullerton Avenue underneath Damen and Elston. Changes to the area following that report caused the Benesch Team and the City of Chicago to identify a different option: an at-grade re-route of two legs of the intersection to create three traditional intersections, thereby eliminating the need for an underpass tunnel and avoiding significant impacts to neighboring developments and utilities.
The design was more cost-effective and provided much needed accommodations for pedestrians and bicyclists while also greatly improving traffic in the area – the combined Level of Service F at the existing intersection is now at Level of Service C for each of the three intersections. But the benefits don’t end there. The project area incorporates several improvements to existing commercial developments and opportunities for further growth. To date, more than 180 permanent jobs have been created in the area as a direct result of the intersection improvements.