Washington Avenue: A Big Trench For Commuter Rail Below, Streetcars Above

If you're gonna dream, you might as well dream big.

The Super Neighborhood 22 group, responsible for improving Washington Avenue, is meeting Monday to discuss highly ambitious plans for that burgeoning entertainment district.

Among the proposals: Burying a large trench along the nightclubby stretch of the street so as many as four rail lines can be run down it without choking traffic. Heavy commuter rail lines taking people from the burbs to downtown, as well as light rail lines carrying intracity traffic, could be lowered under street level, according to one "strongly preferred by SN 22" proposal.

"Safer, quieter and less disruptive to car and rail traffic," are among the advantages, the group says. It also "reconnects neighborhoods at ground level."

Proposals also include widening sidewalks, burying utility lines and planting trees, and building "low and mid-rise" parking structures.

And streetcars.

And they don't mean those wimpy runner-tire pseudo-streetcars either. Streetcars on rail have a "permanence [that]promotes pedestrian-friendly development," the proposal says and "offer a smoother, quieter, more comfortable ride."

How to pay for all this?

That all is still to be determined.

But the plans are intriguing and ambitious.
It will be presented at local constituent clubs of SN 22, but also in a more general meeting at Depelchin Children's Center, 4950 Memorial Drive on Monday May 24 at 6:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m.

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Richard Connelly
Contact: Richard Connelly