Stretch of Pulaski Road on SW Side poses major safety risk, residents and business owners say

Sarah Schulte Image
Wednesday, February 14, 2024
Stretch of Pulaski poses major safety risk, residents and business owners say
Business owners and residents on the Southwest Side agree that a busy stretch of Pulaski Road is a serious safety risk for drivers and pedestrians alike.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Businesses owners and residents along South Pulaski Road between the Stevenson Expressway to 71st Street agree action is needed to protect both pedestrians and drivers from serious safety risks.

A damaged iron fence, tire tracks and displaced bricks are all a result of car crashes on South Pulaski between I-55 and 71st Street. This past week alone, two people were killed and several were critically injured in two separate crashes.

"We hear it, engines roaring, the wheels squealing," said Mario Aguirre, president and CEO of United Credit Union.

The United Credit Union building on the corner of Pulaski and 44th Street has been impacted by many crashes. Aguirre said they've become so common, the retaining wall and landscaping bricks around the building are consistently damaged or blown over.

"Once every two weeks or so, we are having to do some type of repair on the building," he said.

READ MORE: 1 killed, 6 seriously injured in Archer Heights crash, Chicago police say

Between now and January 2018, Chicago Police Department data analyzed by the ABC7 Data Team shows there have been 132 serious injury crashes and 12 deadly crashes on this stretch of Pulaski.

"We have a dangerous road in the middle of our community, it's essentially a highway. It doesn't have to be that way," said Dixon Galvez-Searle of Southwest Collective.

Galvez-Searle said the momentum to speed down Pulaski begins when drivers go down a big hill off of I-55 and try to hit as many green lights as possible. Southwest Collective is calling on the city to reduce the number of lanes and make concrete improvements that would slow drivers down.

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"We think things like pedestrian islands in the middle would make sense, anything that would slow down traffic and make it easier for pedestrians to walk," he said.

Aguirre said for several years Pulaski businesses contacted then-14th Ward Ald. Ed Burke to help, but never received a response. Burke's replacement, Ald. Jeylu Gutierrez, said she is determined to come up with a solution.

"Even as a constituent before being an alderwoman, I realized how bad the traffic was on Pulaski Road. I've been in constant communication with CDOT, we need to perform a traffic study," Ald. Gutierrez said.

Residents, businesses and community groups will have a chance to voice their concerns about Pulaski. In a few weeks, Gutierrez plans to hold a community meeting with city agencies, including the Chicago Police Department.