The Wells-Wentworth Connector is a multi-phase project that will create a new road between the Loop and Chinatown.
The project will also realign Wentworth Ave. between Archer and Cermak to bring this portion of Wentworth in line with the portion of Wentworth south of Cermak Rd. The realignment of Wentworth Ave. will greatly improve safety for both motorists and pedestrians, while forming better links between New Chinatown Square and the traditional Chinatown south of Cermak Road.
The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) and the Department of Planning and Development (DPD) have, since 2002, been actively planning for an improvement to address the safety and congestion problems particularly coming off the Dan Ryan ramps at Cermak.
Also of consideration is improving access to both developed and undeveloped land in the two TIFs between Cermak and Roosevelt Rd.. CDOT, in conjunction with DPD and the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), completed an alignment study in 2013 reviewing the area between Cermak and 18th Street. In particular, this study was intended to see how the new Wentworth Avenue could best facilitate safer, less congested traffic flow and best improve connectivity from Chinatown and the Dan Ryan ramps to and from the Loop for all transportation modes.
Also, the alignments were considered for how they would best accommodate new development, maintain existing development, and improve connections within Chinatown and to the River South area. IDOT and the Federal Highway Administration approved the proposed alignment plan in May of 2013, and are currently reviewing the proposed Intersection Design Studies. Construction of the first phase of this improvement is estimated to begin in fall of 2014.
The Wells Wentworth Connector Improvement Project will have the following benefits for the general public and adjacent properties:
1. Improved safety for vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists. Within a wide study area, the offset intersection at Wentworth and Cermak had the highest number of crashes of any other intersection. In comparison, the number was almost double the number of crashes occuring at the intersection of the Dan Ryan off-ramps with Cermak. The realignment of Wentworth at Cermak is required to facilitate safer connections for all modes of traffic.
2. Construction of a new north-south collector street (Wells Wentworth) . This will allow for improved traffic flow throughout both TIF Redevelopment Areas by creating a coordinated series of intersections, as well as provide or improve pedestrian connectivity within the two project areas and to nearby destinations such as the new Ping Tom Park Fieldhouse, the proposed new Chinatown Library, the existing commercial areas, and transit stops.
3. Significant redevelopment opportunities. Improved connectivity between the Loop, the two TIF Redevelopment Areas, and the surrounding communities will promote the redevelopment of vacant land and expand economic development opportunites.