Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Streetsblog: Can Transportation Options Energize Englewood?

63rd/Halsted in 1955
It's very interesting that Englewood activists are looking at the already existing public transit infrastructure as another asset for the beleaguered area. I always remind people that once upon a time the intersection of 63rd & Halsted was once akin to a downtown that has been decimated in recent years. There is some redevelopment with Kennedy-King College at that intersection.

Also mentioned is utilizing the various elevated railroad embankments as trails and parks. It's noted that Metra does run through Englewood, however, doesn't make any stops through the neighborhood. All the same BRT, investing in the L station hubs, the railroad embankment trails is part of a plan of sorts:
Most Chicagoans associate Englewood with poverty and crime, but local advocates and activists see it as a neighborhood with untapped potential, with excellent access to public transportation being one of the keys to its future success. “From the beginning, Englewood was designed to be a transportation and retail hub, and that does not come up often enough in the conversation,” says Demond Drummer, a resident who works for the Teamwork Englewood community development organization.

Greater Englewood is a predominantly African-American area, roughly bounded by Garfield, Western, 79th and State. It includes two Green Line stations, three Red Line Stops, Metra’s Rock Island Main Line (although trains no longer stop here), and multiple bus routes. The New Era Trail proposal would turn a nearly two-mile, dormant rail corridor into an elevated greenway along 59th between Hoyne and Lowe. The city is also considering building bus rapid transit on Ashland, which would create yet another travel option.

“The proximity to transportation is one of Englewood’s huge assets,” says Asiaha Butler, who works in the real estate industry and president of the Resident Association of Greater Englewood (RAGE). “It can help revive the neighborhood by providing individuals with access to jobs in other parts of the city, and it can encourage new retail here. But we need businesses to be smart and strategic by locating near hubs like 63rd and Ashland, and the 63rd Street Red Line Stop.”
BTW, on the western end of Englewood the possibility of bus rapid transit (BRT) on Ashland. So far phase one of this project will run from Cortland Ave to 31st ultimately the route will go from Irving Park Road on the north end to as far south as 95th Street. I do wonder how this could benefit the area of West Englewood at least.

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