Oak Lawn officials discuss alleviating traffic jams due to water main project
By Joe Boyle
An increase in traffic congestion has brought on a series of complaints that Oak Lawn officials plan to address.
The Oak Lawn Village Board on Tuesday morning approved an ordinance directing the installation of a temporary barricade just south of 108th and Cook Avenue.
The board also authorized a traffic engineering study for 107th Street south from Central Avenue east to Cook Avenue and south of 111th Street.
The reason for putting up the temporary barricades is to alleviate a recent surge in traffic due to the ongoing construction along Central Avenue as the next phase of the Oak Lawn regional water main system is taking place.
Mayor Terry Vorderer expected the nightmare for motorists, who usually drive along Central Avenue from Southwest Highway to 108th Street but have been slowed due to the construction.
“We knew this would happen but right now we need to help the people who live along Cook Avenue for now,” Vorderer said. “Traffic along there has increased dramatically.”
Trustee William “Bud” Stalker (5th), whose district takes in the construction site along Central Avenue, has fielded complaints from callers stating that traffic has increased. Residents have asked for the temporary barriers to deter the drivers from coming down the street.
“Traffic has been one big headache due to the traffic congestion along Central Avenue,” Stalker said.
The CDM Smith engineering company is working on the project and said during a board meeting last month that they will work as quickly as they can to get as much done before cold weather becomes an issue.
The project continues with new pipes being inserted along Central Avenue that will allow Lake Michigan water to be distributed more efficiently from Oak Lawn to various municipalities in the southwest suburbs.
But in the interim that means one lane of traffic each going north and south along Central Avenue. Since the construction has begun, many motorists have ventured off Central Avenue looking for alternate paths with Cook Avenue from 107th to 111th streets seeing the largest increase in traffic.
Construction along Southwest Highway and Central Avenue will continue into portions of the winter, weather permitting. The next phase of the project will include installing the new water mains along Cicero Avenue beginning next March.
Oak Lawn officials said last month that the new water mains will be more efficient. CDM officials have informed the village that the Oak Lawn portion of the project could be completed by the end of 2023.
In a related matter, Trustee Ralph Soch (6th) asks that residents be patient while ongoing street repairs take place in the village.
“All I ask is for everyone to be patient,” Soch said regarding street repaving currently taking place. “They are all working as fast as they can.”
Mayor sends letter to Pritzker
Vorderer said during the meeting that he has sent a letter to Gov. J.B. Pritzker stating his dissatisfaction with the Illinois Safety, Accountability, Fairness and Equity-Today, or SAFE-T Act.
The mayor has made no secret of his disdain of the law that will include a no-cash bail provision beginning on Jan. 1. The mayor and the Oak Lawn Village Board voted to repeal the SAFE-T Act during a meeting held in August.
Vorderer said after the unanimous vote to repeal the SAFE-T Act that the nearly 800-page bill will actually deter police from doing their jobs effectively.
Village Clerk Claire Henning reminded the Board and residents that early voting began Monday at the Oak Lawn Village Hall, 9446 S. Raymond Ave. Early voting continues from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. through Saturday, Oct. 29, and 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 30.
Hours will be extended beginning Monday, Oct. 31, from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. through Friday, Nov. 4; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 5; and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 6.
The final early voting hours will be from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 7.
Election day hours will take place from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 8.
Santa on the Green
Trustee Paul Mallo (3rd) reminded the board and residents that Santa on the Green will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 26, at the Village Green. Santa and Mrs. Claus will greet youngsters and parents at the gazebo located in the Village Green, which is adjacent to the Oak Lawn Library.
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