The busy stretch of Chicago Avenue in Ukrainian Village finally got the traffic signal many residents were anticipating on May 1. Alderman Brian Hopkins was joined by children from the St. Nicolas Cathedral School as well as local business owners and community members in turning on the four-way traffic signal at Hoyne and Chicago Avenues.

Construction has been underway on the project for months at the closest intersection to the busy West Town Mariano’s. The intersection previously featured a pedestrian crosswalk stop sign, but was still a tricky street to cross with traffic coming in and out of the Mariano’s parking lot and going east-west on Chicago Avenue.

"I was aware of the longstanding request [for a traffic light] going back eight years. Some of the road studies [on whether the light was needed] were inconclusive. When we agreed to allocate the menu money, we were able to get around the lengthy approval process [for stoplights]," Hopkins told DNAinfo. 

The funds for the project came from the $1.3 million yearly stipend each Chicago alderman receives to help fix things like neighborhood roads and sidewalks. In total the project cost $350,000 split evenly by Ald. Hopkins (2nd Ward) and Ald. Joe Moreno (1st Ward) from their 2016 funds.

The switch was turned on by Aiden Kam, 10, the essay winner from St. Nicolas Cathedral school’s contest. Kam’s parents own Sunrise Cafe on Chicago Avenue between Damen and Hoyne avenues and wrote about his experience with screeching tires and fast-moving cars down the block.

Prior to being fully turned on, the traffic lights flashed red in effort to ensure drivers and pedestrians prepared themselves for the change.

In 2014, Mariano’s opened its doors along Chicago Avenue in Ukrainian Village after Dominick’s closed for business. The busy store accommodates residents throughout West Town and Wicker Park and 90 percent of the store’s customers get there by foot.