CHICAGO (CBS) — Speed bumps and cul-de-sacs usually add up to one thing in Chicago – controversy.
A case in point right now is a proposed cul-de-sac in University Village – and as CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov found on Tuesday, technology may be behind all the trouble.
The cul-de-sac would be constructed where 14th Street meets Union Avenue. Opponents say it would force traffic to the next busy street to the west – Halsted Street – but those in favor say it is all about safety.
On the short stretch of 14th Street in question right now, there are plenty of issues – including blown stop signs, speeding cars, and drivers who use the stretch for quick access to the Dan Ryan Expressway by way of Ruble Street. Some of them do so after committing a crime.
“This is their direct access, right here, on 14th Street,” said Charmaine Nichols of University Village.
Many who live off 14th Street between Halsted Street and Union Avenue said it makes their neighborhood unsafe.
“I think it’s just risky to even cross the street,” said Sarah Wieland of University Village.
That concern is why Nichols, Wieland, and several other neighbors want a cul-de-sac.
But Sharon Lewis and more than 100 other nearby neighbors do not, and they signed a petition against it.
“It is negatively impacting literally the majority of University Village, because this is our back way,” Lewis said.
Traffic flow and congestion, along with convenience, are reasons Lewis and others oppose the blocked-off street.
Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson (11th) is caught in the middle.
“I think ultimately, the decision is public safety versus personal inconvenience – and when it comes to that, I’m going to side with public safety,” Thompson said.
The alderman and the residents said traffic on that stretch of Union Avenue has skyrocketed in the past few years. They blame technology.
“With the apps that we have – Waze and other apps for navigational purposes – they use this as a shortcut, and so we have to look at that,” Thompson said.
“I deal with the same thigs,” Lewis said, “but I’m not asking anyone to close off a street.”
Unless another barrier pops up, Ald. Thompson said cul-de-sac construction should begin next month. He said the cash-strapped city can install it for less than $50,000.