Updated: April 19, 2013 6:07AM
A busy Oak Lawn intersection where more than 100 crashes occurred between 2005 and 2011 is being fast-tracked for improvements because of safety concerns, Cook County officials said Thursday.
Central Avenue will be widened and left-turn lanes added at Southwest Highway, an intersection that includes St. Gerald Parish and school, according to a county news release.
The county and the village planned to split the $1.6 million construction cost, but the county has agreed to pay the entire amount because of the village’s “fiscal constraints,” the release said. The village still will buy the property needed for the project, which amounts to 14 percent of the total cost, Oak Lawn village manager Larry Deetjen said.
“The county decided to step up its commitment because the project would have been delayed for years without adequate funding,” Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said in a prepared statement.
The traffic signals at the intersection also will be modernized with new equipment, including LED signals and a pedestrian countdown signal, officials said.
The village will buy land from owners on the east side of Central.
“There’s a small group on the east side, between the church and 92nd Street, where we have to acquire some property from each of those owners. It’s a two-block stretch, one block north and one block south of Southwest Highway,” Deetjen said.
New curbing and parkways will be installed, along with the planting of trees. Driveway aprons will be repaired, too, he said.
The current lack of turn lanes on Central leads to traffic backing up.
“Cars tend to weave and accidents occur,” Deetjen said.
Deetjen said the land will be acquired this year, with construction set for the spring of 2014.