It was just a few weeks ago that when watching a group of children crossing the street on Vliet my hair raised on the back of my neck. Children, our children in the Near West Side community were darting in and out of traffic to avoid getting hit by cars going as fast as 50+ miles an hour.

This scene over the past two weeks has slowly but dramatically changed with the support of our local alderman, Russell Stamper, local property owner, Tom Straub and Near West Side Partners coming together to address the issue of reckless driving and speeding on Vliet.

Kids trying to cross Vliet street on the afternoon.

After finding a few underutilized 2-ton planters in the Near West Side, I reached out to the Commissioner of the Department of Public Works, Jeff Polenske about using these planters on Vliet Street. Commissioner Polenske was able to secure these planters for NWSPs use.

NWSP has worked to secure funding and develop plans over the past 18 months for a major streetscape that includes similar planters across the Near West Side that will address traffic calming. We hopefully see this streetscape start soon. However, Vliet street needed action now.

Local property owner Tom Straub was able to get the planters placed and even stepped up to plant flowers and maintain the planters. So after the planters were placed at strategic locations near the crosswalks, I called Ald. Russell Stamper’s office and he was able to get the crosswalks repainted within a week.

You can hear Tom Straub’s and the story of the traffic calming on Vliet Street below.

In less than three weeks the Near West Side community along Martin Drive neighborhood was able to do something about the speeding along this commercial corridor. Patrons of local Near West Side businesses Triciclo Peru and Pete’s Pop feel a little safer visiting as traffic has begun to slow down.

It is these smaller wins that are helping our neighborhood become a safe and healthier place to live, work and play. I am glad to have partners like DPW, Ald. Stamper, Tom Straub and the many residents who step up to make differences each day in our community.


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