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183rd Street traffic restructuring project inches forward

Homewood’s grant application for restructuring lanes on 183rd Street from about Morgan Street west to Dixie Highway has been approved, but that doesn’t mean work is imminent.

Public Works Director John Schaefer said the village received word in April that the project was approved for a $232,875 Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program (ITEP) grant. Now, Homewood needs various approvals from the state before it can move the project forward. 

The plan calls for changing the section of 183rd Street from four traffic lanes to two travel lanes, a center turn lane and two bike lanes. The reconfiguration is intended to reduce speeding.

The view of 183rd Street looking east from Riegel Road. Many drivers can’t resist exceeding the speed limit on the wide, four-lane road. Homewood officials hope a planned restructuring of the traffic lanes will help control speeding. (Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)

Schaefer said the village is asking IDOT to consider granting a waiver for Phase 1 of what’s usually a three-phase process. Phase 1 typically involves things like preliminary engineering work, studies and obtaining rights-of-way as necessary, he said.

Because the lane restructuring is a paint-only project with no structural work, Schaefer hopes IDOT will allow the village to move to Phase 2, which would speed up the process.

“We would definitely like to get it in before winter hits, but there’s no guarantee,” he said, noting even if the Phase 1 waiver comes through, there are still a number of steps, each of which requires IDOT approval. 

“Just because you get grant money doesn’t mean they write you a check and (you) go and do it. There’s always a process you have to go through,” Schaefer explained. While the process can be lengthy and frustrating, he believes it should reassure residents that projects are in compliance with state regulations and everything is being done properly.

Village Manager Napoleon Haney said he’s eager to see the project completed. He’s a cyclist, and he thinks making 183rd Street more hospitable to bike riders also will contribute to encouraging drivers to slow down. 

He noted that Ridge Road, another east-west roadway with lots of traffic, reduces from four to two lanes at Center Avenue and has bike lanes from there to downtown. 

“I think it’s going to be good,” he said of a reconfigured 183rd Street. “We already have a model.” 

There was strong consensus among 183rd Street residents in favor of implementing the lane restructuring, Schaefer said. The village conducted a two-week test in 2021 of the new layout and held a number of meetings with residents to get their feedback.

Some residents are still worried about possible traffic congestion or traffic diverting to Ridge Road or 187th Street, the third major east-west street in Homewood. He said the test didn’t show much impact on 187th Street, and while there was some increase in traffic on Ridge, there weren’t problems with congestion.

Schaefer noted that the lane restructuring project is the most feasible solution to chronic speeding on 183rd Street.

“We’re trying to help control that traffic without doing major construction that the village can’t afford,” he said. “We’re trying to do the best we can with what we have.”

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