Build the Franklin St. connector

The Franklin Street Connector was a proposed link between the Dan Ryan Expressway and an interchange with Lower Wacker Dr. It didn't materialize, but it was never more needed than when it was proposed in the early 1970s.

Evidence of its need is the constant and annoying backup on the northbound Dan Ryan leading to the Jane Byrne Interchange. The Franklin Connector would have alleviated some of that backup. perhaps even a lot. The Connector, however, died with the Central Area Plan that would have, among other things, sunk some of the Loop L into a subway. The latter idea died because its extravagant costs and  construction disruption in the Loop  were unjustifiable.

But the Franklin Street Connector remains a worthy idea because 0f the large number of cars and trucks headed for downtown that would be diverted. The Connector would take motorists from the Dan Ryan directly downtown via a link-up with upper and lower Wacker Drive and Franklin Street. Loop-bound traffic no longer would have to contend with the through traffic heading for the Kennedy or Eisenhower expressways. The Connector, combined with the flyovers now being constructed at the Jane Byrne Intersection would go a long way to alleviate the north Dan Ryan tie-ups

While the costs of building the Franklin Street Connector now would be huge, it could be more easily justified by the reduced  environmental damage caused by the everlasting stop-go-stop congestion on the Dan Ryan's north leg. Think of all the pollution that cars and trucks stalled on the Dan Ryan now pour into the air. Think of all the energy that would be saved by more smoothly flowing traffic.

Of course there would be opposition from people who oppose any new expressway construction as a matter of principle. They believe leads to urban sprawl and encourages people to drive more. The Franklin Street Connector obviously would not encourage urban sprawl. It might encourage a slight increase in driving as motorists from the South Side and southern suburbs no longer would have to contend with the Dan Ryan backups. But most people who would use the Franklin Street Connector already are in their cars.

More details of the Connector proposal are found in the 1972 proposed environmental impact statement. It officially describes the project an expressway with ramps to major cross streets running 1.8 miles from the intersection of I-90 and I-94 (the Dan Ryan Expressway) and I-55 (Stevenson Expressway) near W. 24th Street to a connection with Wacker Drive and Harrison Street.

The 1.8-mile Franklin St. Connector corridor running roughly 250 feet east of the Chicago River.

The 1.8-mile Franklin St. Connector corridor running roughly 250 feet east of the Chicago River. (Google Maps)

The south end of the Franklin St. Connector. Notice that the Dan Ryan veres off to the west while the wide lanes continue north in anticipation of hooking up to the Franklin St. Connector

The south end of the Franklin St. Connector. Notice that the Dan Ryan veers off to the west while the wide lanes continue north in anticipation of hooking up to the Franklin St. Connector

 

General area of connection to Wacker Dr. (the white north-south lanes show on the map).

General area of connection to Wacker Dr. (the white north-south lanes show on the map).

www.dennisbyrne.net

Comments

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  • Finally a Dennis Brynes post I can agree with....you just had to go back 45 years for subject.

  • In reply to Michael Messinger:

    But, as usual, Dennis is living 45 years in the past. The City of Chicago published a plan for a Wells-Wentworth connector. Would be a boulevard rather than an expressway, though.

  • In reply to jack:

    Not even close to what's needed, Jack. Sometimes old is better.

  • In reply to Dennis Byrne:

    Maybe they should dig up the flex lane on the Northwest Tollway and reduce it to two lanes each way.

    I figure that, like the Circle Line, if there were demand in the past 45 years, someone would have moved on it.

    However, I'm real sure you have the engineering study that this old is better, including on the Chinatown community, which has expanded to the north in the past 45 years. Do you have an estimate of the eminent domain expense?

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