The Illinois Department of Transportation’s resurfacing project for Harlem Avenue will continue through October. Work will avoid the area between 21st and 25th streets, which is due to be overhauled either late this year or in 2023. | Alex Rogals/Staff Photographer

A roadway resurfacing project that has just kicked off for Harlem Avenue between 26th Street and North Avenue will largely avoid the North Riverside section of the roadway, for now.

The Illinois Department of Transportation on April 4 informed the village of North Riverside that it was omitting the stretch of Harlem Avenue between roughly 21st Street and 25th Street from the resurfacing project, because that section will be overhauled in 2023.

Next year, not only will that section be resurfaced, but the intersections of Cermak Road and Harlem Avenue as well as 23rd Street and Harlem Avenue will be reconfigured to improve vehicle and pedestrian safety.

Village officials had been unsure exactly when those intersection improvements would take place – they were included on IDOT’s 2022-27 Highway Improvement Program – but now it’s clear that work is imminent.

Maria Castaneda, a spokeswoman for IDOT, told the Landmark last week that the agency will seek construction bids for the North Riverside/Berwyn intersection configuration work in August.

“The work itself will not start until the end of 2022 or early 2023,” Castaneda said.

At Harlem and Cermak, the triangular right-turn lane islands at each corner will be removed. Each of the four approaches will be striped for dual left-turn lanes and countdown traffic signals will replace the existing ones. The intersection’s sidewalks will also be made more handicapped-accessible.

The intersection of 23rd Street and Harlem Avenue, which serves as an entry/exit into the North Riverside Plaza and Cermak Plaza shopping centers, will also be reconfigured and traffic signals will be replaced. The roadway will not be widened anywhere to accommodate the reconfigured intersections.

IDOT’s new timetable for the Harlem/Cermak work also gives the village of North Riverside and the city of Berwyn a more exact idea of when they will lose the red-light cameras at that intersection.

In 2020, the village was informed by IDOT that the intersection improvements would trigger removal of the cameras, which have brought North Riverside more than $13 million in revenue since they were installed in 2015.

The village will be able to reapply to have the cameras installed, IDOT told North Riverside in 2020, but local officials are not confident they’ll ever return.

Resurface going north to south

Meanwhile, Castaneda told the Landmark that IDOT plans to tackle the roughly 4.5-mile Harlem Avenue resurfacing project beginning at North Avenue and then working in sections southward. The first phase of the project will involve completing the installation of ADA-accessible sidewalk ramps and replacing deteriorating sections of curb and gutter along that stretch of Harlem Avenue.

When crews do begin actually milling off the existing pavement and resurfacing the roadway, Harlem Avenue will remain open to traffic in both direction, although there may be periodic lane closures.

However, the asphalt work won’t really begin to affect travel on Harlem Avenue until later in the summer, perhaps as late as August, said Castaneda. Resurfacing work, minus the North Riverside/Berwyn section between 21st and 25th streets, is expected to wrap up in late October.