If you’re bound and determined to use Harlem Avenue between Aug. 27 and Sept. 4 as a way to between Ogden Avenue and Cermak Road, be prepared to sit in traffic as you wind your way either through Berwyn or Riverside sidestreets to cross the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railroad tracks.
Starting a little after 9 a.m. on Thursday, the BNSF shut down the Harlem Avenue grade crossing. While signs as far north as Cermak Road and as far south as Ogden Avenue warn motorists of the closure and point out detour routes, vehicles still venture toward the tracks.
Once there, they either go east on Windsor Avenue or Stanley Avenues into Berwyn to cross at Home Avenue or west on Quincy or Burlington Streets into Riverside to cross at Delaplaine Road. By 10 a.m. on Monday, block-long backups on East Burlington Street were building as cars waited at the long traffic light to turn north onto Harlem Avenue.
The BNSF has closed the Harlem Avenue crossing to make improvements there. Riverside police, meanwhile, have warned local residents that traffic on streets such as Delaplaine, Robinson Court, Olmsted Road, Blackhawk Road and Lionel Road will increase during rush hour.
Police Chief Thomas Weitzel said that Riverside officers will be assigned to the Delaplaine Road crossing in between service calls in order to monitor traffic and enforce traffic laws.
In addition, BNSF police will be at Harlem Avenue and Delaplaine Road during rush hour to assist with traffic control and assist pedestrians, Weitzel said.
Weitzel asks “that residents, along with other motorists, find alternate routes and, if you must travel in the area of the Harlem Avenue crossing, to plan ahead and practice as much patience as possible because traffic will be slow moving.”