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*BREAKING* Meigs Field 2.0 -- Mayor Daley Closes Magnificent Mile to Cars

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Ted Rosenbaum

Former athlete, full-time engineer. I'd tell you more but I'd have to kill you.

He's done it again.  In a move reminiscent of the 2003 midnight closure of Meigs Field, we wake this morning to news that Mayor Daley has closed off the Magnificent Mile to all car traffic.  Overnight, the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) with help from the Lincoln Park Towing Company put a row of planters along the crosswalks on the south side of Oak Street as well as at the intersection with Upper Wacker Drive, leaving Michigan Avenue wide open to pedestrians and cyclists.  Southbound traffic from Lake Shore Drive is being diverted along Oak to either Rush St. or the Inner Drive.  And don't try anything funny, as Chicago Police are waiting and anyone who tries to drive on the Magnificent Mile will be arrested under charges of reckless endangerment.

"Closing the street and allowing only pedestrians and bicycles has worked wonders for Broadway in New York City's Times Square," Mayor Daley said in a statement released to Chicago media overnight, "and there's no reason the Magnificent Mile should only be magnificent for traffic congestion."

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Everything you need to know about the new Magnificent Mile. Image via flickr courtesy of theogeo.

While private auto traffic will be prohibited, there are a dozen CTA bus lines that ply the Mile--the 2, 3, 10, 26, 143, 144, 145, 146, 147, 148, 151, and 157 all use at least part of this stretch--and they will continue to run.  Initially they will run curbside to accommodate the location of bus shelters for inclement weather, with bicycle lanes one lane closer to the center of the street.  In time, however, the median strips will be removed or replaced with new waiting shelters, and buses will move to occupy the middle of Michigan Ave.   Bicycle lanes will then run outside the bus lanes, providing pedestrians with an 8 foot buffer.  Businesses will also be able to apply to have the flower boxes outside their storefronts removed, opening up sidewalk space for outdoor dining, shopping, and other lively uses.

So as not to completely split River North in half, cross traffic will still be allowed on every street from Walton to Illinois.  However, the CTA buses on Michigan Avenue will have signal priority, and speed limits for east-west traffic between Fairbanks Ct. and Wabash have been lowered to 20 mph.

So, Chicago: with what looks to be fantastic weather coming this weekend, go walk around on our new (and I'd say vastly improved) Magnificent Mile, and share your observations/comments below!

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3 Comments

Bumsteer said:

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I almost bit.. its April 1st.

Roland said:

Can we do this? For real? At least some frickin' bus lanes would be nice.

Ted Rosenbaum said:

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Roland, there's nothing inherent about Michigan Ave. to say we can't. I think it needs a bit more engineering that simply putting up planters, but that's just a case for not doing this today, not a case against doing it at all.

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