What are Chicago’s High Crash Corridors (and can they be fixed)?

| |

Back in 2018, the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) identified 70 miles of High Crash Corridors, or HCCs. Simply put, HCCs are streets that have a high number of severe car accidents that cause serious injuries. They are the most dangerous stretches of road in the city.

As part of Vision Zero Chicago, CDOT recommends three levels of what they call “design interventions” on these hazardous streets. These interventions range from relatively quick and cheap fixes to longer, more expensive projects. The three categories of safety improvements are:

  • Rapid delivery projects (RDPs)
  • Capital improvements
  • Street transformations

An RDP is defined as a road project that takes no more than six months to complete and uses what they call “interim” materials. For example, CDOT might add pavement markings, change traffic signs or alter the timing of existing traffic signals. These are short-term solutions that CDOT installs for testing purposes. If the interim changes are successful, CDOT can make the changes permanent using sturdier materials like concrete.

Examples of temporary traffic safety projects

Among the areas that CDOT has implemented RDP improvements are:

  • Milwaukee Avenue between Western Avenue and Division Street, where CDOT added curb extensions and striped bicycle facilities
  • State Street in the Central Business District, where CDOT added curb extensions, paint, refuge islands, crosswalk stripes and hardened centerlines

Hopefully, this project will improve Chicago’s most dangerous roads and intersections over the next few years. But the Vision Zero Chicago project is slow-moving, having begun in 2016. There is a lot of work to do to make Chicago’s streets reasonably safe throughout the city.