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The Chicago region’s current hub-and-spoke transit system leaves nearly half a million Cook County residents stranded in transit deserts.

49th Ward getting ready to vote on improvements

Alderman Joe Moore brought participatory budgeting to his ward last year, allowing citizens 16 and older to vote on how the ward’s $1.3 million “menu money” would be spent for infrastructure improvements.

In 2010, the top improvements voted into place were for walking, biking and transit. For 2011, the 49th Ward is gearing up for another round of participatory budgeting with neighborhood assemblies where citizens can learn about proposed improvements from six committees (Public Safety, Arts & Other, Parks & Environment, Streets, Traffic Safety and Transportation).

The first neighborhood assembly on Tuesday brought more than 75 people out to learn about how the process will change for this year and learn more about the proposed projects (see photo).

Related to Active Trans’ work, the Transportation Committee is proposing several projects, including adding more bike routes, bike parking, sidewalk repairs, shelters and messaging at the local Metra stop and a first-ever for Chicago, a bike box.

The Streets Committee is lobbying for votes to put 80 percent of the available money toward repaving projects (see photo) and the Traffic Safety Committee is proposing a project to realign the Touhy/Rogers/Ridge intersection for improved pedestrian access and safety.

The second neighborhood assembly is 7 p.m. tonight at the Pottawatomie Park Field House, 7340 N. Rogers Ave.

For Spanish speakers, a neighborhood assembly in Spanish will be held on Wednesday, April 6th, at St. Jerome Church Parish Center, 1706 W. Lunt Ave.

And the public voting will be Saturday, May 7 (time TBD) at the Chicago Math & Science Academy, 7212 N. Clark St.

If you live in the 49th Ward or know someone who does, get involved and help shape local improvements.