Michigan Avenue

Bollards coming to protect Michigan Avenue businesses, pedestrians

Deployment along Michigan Avenue, from Chicago to Ohio, should start in the coming weeks and wrap up by the time of the Democratic National Convention in August.

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Passersby on Wednesday pulled out their cell phones to take a picture of the yellow Mustang that pulled up and parked on the sidewalk at Michigan Avenue and Huron Street. A police officer had to tell the driver to leave and clear a path for him to back up on to the busy streets.

It's the kind of safety situation that could be avoided when bollards, or structures used to prevent vehicles from colliding with pedestrians and buildings, are installed along the avenue later this month.

"We worked on this for well over a year, with the city of Chicago and CDOT," said John Gagliano, a commissioner with the Michigan Avenue Special Service Area, which is working with the Magnificent Mile Association on the project. "We are really looking forward to the impact that it has on the Avenue," he said.

The goal of the project is to protect not only pedestrians, but also businesses that have been plagued by a series of crash-and-grab robberies.

"The stores have been asking for this for quite a while," said Ald. Brian Hopkins, who represents the 2nd Ward.

Hopkins said some bollards will take the form of granite planter boxes, but others will be simple metal stone structures that can be set deep into the ground.

There is a similar program installing bollards on Oak Street, where there also have been a number of crash-and-grab and smash-and-grab robberies.

Manufacturers claim bollards can be made unobtrusive but strong. A few manufacturers produced videos showing larger models able to dramatically stop a truck in the space of three feet.

"They are effective at preventing the kind of incursions where the vehicle crashes through the plate glass window and then the thieves empty out the store," Hopkins said.

Deployment along Michigan Avenue, from Chicago to Ohio, should start in the coming weeks and wrap up by the time of the Democratic National Convention in August.

Gagliardo said bollard programs on Oak Street have been successful and he expects the Michigan Avenue installation to be so as well.

"The city of Chicago and the Department of Transportation are actually implementing a pilot program citywide for other owners and constituents in the neighborhoods to deploy a similar program," he said.

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