Our citizens should know that on 9/9/10 Franklin Street was converted from a thoroughfare to a side street. Let me explain: each intersection has been constricted by curbs and concrete, making each lane eight feet wide at the corners rather than the usual 10 feet, plus the no-parking zone on each side of the street. This has happened to the whole length of this street, including the five corner intersection by Chicago Lumber and Desplaines. The Circle Avenue intersection by Farmington Meats also has been constricted. The simple term for this is “bump-outs.” Looking down the street, it looks very strange, but will be made “beautified” by flowers and shrubs. Forest Park’s signature benches and old-style lights (which appear in its logo) will be added to each corner. Will this be enough to convince the public that this will be a good change?

Construction quickly occurred. I went to work on a wide street and the next day the street was severely narrowed at every corner (from Harlem to Lathrop). Was this brought up at any council meeting? Just like the Meigs Field destruction, this occurred overnight.

I had seen some workers in the area and asked them why this project was happening. They said it was probably done to slow down traffic and to slow turns. Bump-outs on side streets are enough, but destroying a major thoroughfare is too much. Never have I seen such a project anywhere I have traveled. The money used for this project should be used to grind down and resurface Circle north of Madison.

Safety is probably what the village or public works will say; or that this system spreading all across Forest Park is preferable than the speed humps used on Chicago’s side streets.

Here are the reasons why this project is NOT safe.

  • Head-on traffic could happen at the narrow constrictions at each intersection.
  • Turns could cause accidents because cars trying to avoid the curbs will swing wider and possibly hit oncoming cars.
  • Cars could hit bicycles as the cyclers swing out to avoid the curb intrusions.
  • Avoiding those cyclers could cause head-on collisions.
  • Most importantly, people will most likely NOT slow down.
  • If an accident does happen, how will emergency vehicles get to any victims caused by this new design system?
  • Imagine how dangerous and awkward snow removal will be.
  • Did anyone think that the concrete “parks” and benches could be breeding grounds for drug crimes or worse? Expensive brighter lights and cameras may be needed to “police” the areas. At the very least, noisy and rowdy behavior (which can be a nuisance) could be the result near the intersections. 
  • Just plain hanging-out there may be dangerous for our children. Most are on foot and many are on bikes.

Let’s show our voice at the next council meeting.  Circle Avenue on the north side as well as Randolph Street could be the next thoroughfares to be eliminated.

-Paul Kramer