Residents Want a More Pedestrian-Friendly 45th Ward

45th-ward[dropcap]A[/dropcap]ld. John Arena asked voters how they would like to spend the ward’s discretionary budget for the third year in a row. “For the last two years, I have used a participatory budgeting process to allocate $1 million of local infrastructure funds,” said Ald. Arena.

Residents of the 45th Ward have voted for projects like the funding for pigeon abatement in viaducts, a new turf field at Beaubien School, and a new playground at Independence Park, according to the alderman’s office.

This year’s voting was held between April 27 and May 2 and included mobile voting booths set up around the ward. In order to participate, voters had to be a resident of the ward and be at least 14 years old.

At the close of polling over the weekend, 447 residents entered votes asking Arena to spend 54.7 percent of the budget on road repairs. That left $453,000 for the alderman to spend on the top projects that were selected by voters.

45th-ward-bike-laneThe most popular project, with 203 votes, is the installation of bike lanes on Milwaukee from Lawrence to Addison. The alderman’s office says Milwaukee Avenue has been identified as a Spoke Route in the “Chicago Streets for Cycling 2020 Plan.” The proposed $60,000-project would update this stretch of Milwaukee with a more modern, safe design to accommodate all users of the roadway from bus, auto and bicycle, said the alderman’s office.

“Standard Bicycle Lanes will be installed on this stretch of roadway with no change to number of traffic lanes or traffic throughput,” said a release detailing the plan.

Another plan popular with residents is the creation of “PeopleSpots” at the Six Corners commercial corridor. The proposed plan would feature a platform that is installed adjacent to a sidewalk within the existing parking lane to create a space for outdoor seating and dining in the hope of bringing more pedestrian traffic to retail corridors within the 45th Ward. The proposed “PeopleSpots would be around Lawrence and Milwaukee, as well as Lawrence and Austin, and cost $30,000.

A full list of projects voted on by residents can be seen here.

“Thank you to everyone who attended a meeting and came out to vote,” said Arena. In the fall, the alderman is expected to host neighborhood assemblies to begin the process for the 2016 participant budget vote.

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