Highland Park, News

Highland Park’s Green Bay Road rebuild pushed to 2025, while bike lanes cause council split

The Highland Park City Council split on multiple topics during its Monday, April 10 sessions, including whether bike lanes should be included in an upcoming Green Bay Road improvement project.

During the council’s committee of the whole meeting, members received an update on the project, which has been the subject of recent community discussions, including one on March 2.

City officials are considering adding bike lanes to a 1.4-mile section of Green Bay Road between Clavey Road and Central Avenue. Based on feedback, the City will not be widening Green Bay Road at any point, nor will they be adding any physical barriers between the bike lane and the street.

Project manager David Block, of TranSystems, shared the latest design with councilmembers and informed them that the project, which was initially slated for 2024, must be pushed back to at-earliest 2025. He said the delay is because of upcoming application deadlines that would have to be met for work to begin next year.

The project consists of reconstruction of the stretch that includes replacement of the pavement and installation of new curbs, traffic signals, storm sewers and more. For a full breakdown of the project, visit its dedicated web page on the City’s website.

Block’s presentation shared information from the March 2 community meeting in addition to a meeting with the Illinois Department of Transportation, which will have final say in the designs.

The plans retain the 5-foot bike lane consisting of 4 feet of pavement and 1 foot of gutter, that will be painted green to designate it from the rest of the roadway.

But Block reported that IDOT requires continuous lanes, which are not possible without widening portions of Green Bay Road.

A possible solution, Block said, is redirecting traffic away from Green Bay Road.

He said on the south end of the project bike traffic would be directed off Green Bay at Blackstone Place, where it would then continue to Broadview Avenue, then back to Green Bay. From there, traffic would be redirected again at Oakwood Avenue, where it would then continue to Central.

Bike lanes would not be required on the side streets, he said.

Although no vote was taken, Councilmembers Adam Stolberg, Annette Lidawer and Andres Tapia all indicated they did not support the bike lanes, while the remaining three councilmembers and Mayor Nancy Rotering said they would like to continue to explore them.

All three opposing councilmembers cited safety concerns as their reason for not wanting to pursue the lanes further.

Stolberg said he went out and measured where the bike lane would be, and said he doesn’t believe there is enough space for vehicles and bike traffic to share the road without a barrier.

“I just think it’s really tight,” Stolberg said. “And as a parent, I can’t imagine putting a child in that bike lane without some type of real barrier. So, as much as I appreciate the federal funding, I appreciate the plan, I really don’t think I could be supportive of a bike lane on Green Bay.”

Kim Stone, who voiced support for the bike lanes, said people are already riding their bikes on Green Bay Road and dedicated bike lanes will provide a space for them. Additionally, she believes it will help businesses and help fight climate change by reducing the number of vehicles.

“A bike lane is an amenity that will benefit everyone,” she said. “It improves connectivity, it may encourage people who would otherwise drive to bike instead, thereby reducing traffic on Green Bay Road.”

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Peter Kaspari

Peter Kaspari is a blogger and a freelance reporter. A 10-year veteran of journalism, he has written for newspapers in both Iowa and Illinois, including spending multiple years covering crime and courts. Most recently, he served as the editor for The Lake Forest Leader. Peter is also a longtime resident of Wilmette and New Trier High School alumnus.

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