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University Avenue's last unpaved alley recently joined the 21st Century. For more than 80 years, two sections of an alley in the 3900 block between 33rd and Wabash Streets remained unimproved and unpaved until late February.

Subcontractor Burtech Pipeline, Inc., had just finished replacing the cast-iron water line in the alley and was poised to pave it. Funds had been dedicated to repave the middle portion of the alley, but the chances of paving the two neglected dirt sections with concrete looked bleak, given the City’s financial straits.

Residents have complained to city officials about these unpaved sections for decades. To underscore the history of this neighborhood, a renovated livery stable at the corner of Lincoln and the alley still retained its original dirt entry to a double-door stable (recently renovated as a garage).

Winter was the worst time of year for residents. Any rain caused rivers of water to flow down the alley and erode the southern unpaved section at University Avenue. The erosion created a four-wheel driving experience but made it impassable for most other cars. For the rest of the year, the unpaved sections created a dust bowl that coated cars and buildings.

At the last minute, the Third District council office’s policy advisor, Stephen Hill, got involved and found some general fund money to use for the repaving. The neighborhood's character transformed overnight, and residents are dancing in the alley with gratitude.

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