Norridge businesses ready for construction
Brian Gaseor, left, and Mark Lymperopulos pose with construction documents April 23, 2012 at Harlem Irving Plaza in Norridge. Illinois Dept. of Transportation are working on Harlem Avenue this summer and will affect both Norridge and Harwood Heights. | Rob Hart~Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 28, 2012 8:16AM
Though many of their neighbors to the south have serious reservations about the resurfacing of Harlem Avenue, Norridge businesses and public works staff are unfazed by the summer-long project.
Last week the Illinois Department of Transportation began scrapping off the top several inches of roadway and laying down new asphalt on Harlem beginning at 26th Street, located between Berwyn and North Riverside. Roadwork on all four lanes will continue northward for six miles to Collum Street in Norridge. The anticipated end date is Aug. 31.
Brian Gaseor, building department director and village engineer for Norridge, does not expect the project to have a negative impact on the stores and shopping centers along Harlem Avenue north Irving Park Road. Less than a half -mile of roadwork occurs in the village.
“It will not be a major disruption to business there,” he said.
Gaseor served as Norridge’s liaison to pre-construction meetings with IDOT.
This is the department’s first major overhaul of the state arterial thoroughfare known as state Route 43 since 1996.
IDOT engineer Orrin James, who is overseeing the resurfacing project, said the work would most likely be done in three or four sections moving from the south northward.
“We haven’t come up with the actual sectional organization yet,” James said on April 12. “But it can only be done in phases.”
Doing the entire six-mile length all at once, he said, “would completely disrupt traffic.”
Instead, James said, sectioned roadwork would likely occur from 26th to Roosevelt Road or I-290, then north to the Green Line viaduct or Lake Street, then north to North Avenue.
A final section between Belmont Avenue north to Collum Street is also being scheduled.
Whatever the areas and their eventual start dates, Norridge would not be affected immediately.
“It will be a long time before they get up here,” Gaseor said, adding that he has not received word from IDOT as to when that might be.
He said when resurfacing crews do reach Norridge, one road lane would be closed at a time and that barricades, cones and flaggers would control and direct traffic. In cases of emergency police and fire departments would be advised to find alternative routes to Harlem Avenue, if possible, Gaseor said.
Construction would likely take place weekdays between 7 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. If crews stick to that schedule, “they should miss most of the traffic,” Gaseor said.
He said night work could be an option in Norridge as well, since there aren’t any residential buildings along the areas where construction will take place.
If past roadwork undertakings are any indication of what’s to come, Gaseor isn’t all that worried.
A previous IDOT project on Forest Preserve Drive was only a minor inconvenience, he said, and that entrances to driveways and parking lots are never completely closed off.
Local businesses maintain a similar outlook.
“We haven’t given it much thought,” said Linda Sasso, a stylist at T & G hair salon, located in the Norridge Commons on the east side of Harlem.
She felt confident that customers would still be able to access the area’s parking lots from Forest Preserve Drive.
Dave Reyes, manager at Just Tires, recalled seeing a flier from the village about the impending resurfacing project but admitted to not being familiar with the details.
Regardless, he said he is not worried about the possibility of extra road congestion.
“We have had construction on Harlem before and we had never seen any (adverse) effects,” Reyes said. “Traffic is always flowing.”
He whether there is road construction or not, the car-service shop is always accessible.
Just Tires is located at the triple intersection of Harlem Avenue, Irving Park Road and Forest Preserve Drive.
“There’s always got to be a way in,” Reyes said.
contributed to this report.