#City & Town Planning
Highland Park City Council
United States of America

On February 28, the city will begin demolition of the Central Avenue Bridge, a historic one-lane bridge over a ravine, leading to Central Avenue Park and a Lake Michigan bluff. For over one hundred years, residents and visitors have sought out this peaceful area, a respite never more crucial than during the COVID pandemic.

One cannot understate the enormity and multitude of adverse effects that will result from the demolition of the bridge and replacement by doubling its size-- including infrastructure far out of scale to the site, increased traffic speed and flow, and decimation of the ravine’s natural ecosystem.

We are calling on the City of Highland Park, the Illinois Department of Transportation, and other key decision makers to repair, restore, and permanently protect Central Avenue Bridge and its ravine ecology instead of funding a $4 million two-lane bridge to nowhere.

Reasons to halt the project include:
• The current bridge can instead be rehabilitated at a fraction of the proposed cost of $4 million (20% of which will be billed to local taxpayers).
• The ravine is in dire need of rehabilitation, including the replacement of storm sewers that have contributed to embankment degradation. The current plan addresses some of these needs but will result in other permanent adverse impacts on the ravine and surrounding coastal wetlands ecosystem.
• The one-lane 10mph bridge structure naturally slows down the minimal traffic it does receive. No crash reports have been attributed to the bridge. Increasing speed and capacity in a largely pedestrian neighborhood, where many choose not to use existing sidewalks at all, will be a major safety hazard.
• This bridge lies with the nationally recognized Linden-Belle Historic Corridor and, according to photographic evidence, was built in 1915. The Historic Illinois Engineering Record must do further due-diligence to review the bridge's historic significance.
• The bridge is nationally recognized as an example of early 20th century design inspired by the neighborhood principles of Jens Jensen. The replacement bridge design contains no meaningful references to the current bridge.
• ***The community has had little to no opportunity for meaningful public notice and input into this project, including during federal approval filings and the 2019 Memorandum of Agreement to demolish and replace the bridge.***

"We, the undersigned, urge decision-makers to put a halt to the proposed demolition and two-lane replacement of Central Avenue Bridge. We ask to instead prioritize protection and restoration of the bridge and its ravine, including meaningful and transparent opportunities for public participation into context-sensitive and cost-effective solutions."

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The URGENT! 2 weeks to demolition: Save our historic bridge petition to Highland Park City Council was written by Julie Ehrlich and is in the category City & Town Planning at GoPetition.