Elevating Chicago

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Eliminating Chicago ... Avenue Exit

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shymen

I've lived all over the country and world, my background is in International Affairs, Political Science, and Economics, and I'm a Chicago boy born and bred.

Here at Elevating Chicago we rarely talk about the needs of the many divers in Chicago.  It is true that LaHood's definition of a livable city is one where if you don't want a car, you don't need one, but livability also means not having to apologize if you do need to drive.  Not everyone can walk, bike, or use rapid transit to get to work.  Therefore, I think it's time I write a post for drivers, by a driver.

It is true that I ride my bike or walk as much as possible; however, I also have a car and drive regularly.  Like many Chicago drivers, I drive along Lake Shore Drive often.  LSD is usually faster than the Kennedy, but it still has issues of its own in regards to traffic.  The exits along the drive that are near a beach tend to be dangerous, and require keen eyesight to spot the frequently jaywalking beach goers.  However, the worst part about the drive is the stoplight, exit (to the inner drive), and entrance (only for southbound traffic) at Chicago Ave.

250px-Lake_Shore_Drive.jpg


There are a few lights along the drive, especially near Grant Park, but none of them cause the infuriating standstill traffic that the light at Chicago Ave. causes.  In most cases, the afternoon rush hour along the drive is between 4 PM and 6:30 PM, except around Chicago Ave.  There, backups begin around 3 PM and can last until 7:30 PM.  Besides the fact that this is an awful way to spend an afternoon (stuck in traffic behind a stoplight), the massive congestion that forms causes excess exhaust, which filters onto the lakefront bike path 20 feet away.  There's nothing like getting home from a tough day's work, going on a run at the beach, and sucking down diesel exhaust.

Unlike many of my posts when I don't have a solution for the problem I speak of, today is different.  The clear and obvious solution to the Chicago Ave. stoplight is to take it away; disallow drivers from getting on and off at Chicago and make them instead get off at Grand St or Michigan Avenue at Oak Street.  (List of LSD Exits)  Chicago Ave is 800 North, so because Grand Street is 530 North and Oak Street is 1000 North, there would not be that grave of a difference if a driver could no longer exit at Chicago Ave.  Also, drivers can enter at Illinois, 500 N, which is close by as well.

The only problem with eliminating the Chicago exit is that due to its proximity to Northwestern Hospital, ambulances would have a slightly tougher time getting to the ER.  One way to solve this, however, is by turning the light at the intersection into the lights we see outside of many fire stations that will only turn red if an emergency vehicle needs to get through.  Therefore, if we put up signs that read "Official Vehicle Use Only," then ambulances will be able to get by without crossing through moving traffic, or slowing down commuters miles back.  If you're as sick of sitting in traffic waiting for that light to change as I am, let's make something happen about it.

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