New emergency official defends keeping Lake Shore Drive open during blizzard

June 21, 2011

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(Getty File/Scott Olson)
Hundreds of cars were abandoned on Lake Shore Drive during February's blizzard.

Chicago emergency officials are defending how the city handled February's blizzard, including the decision to keep Lake Shore Drive open during the evening rush hour.

The public comments come after a new report was given to the media outlining how the city should handle the next blizzard that may come Chicago's way. Gary Schenkel is the new head of the Office of Emergency Management and Communications and says he wouldn't have closed Lake Shore Drive before the blizzard hit, either, even though hundreds of vehicles were buried in the rapidly falling snow after traffic came to a halt.

Joe Schwieterman is a transportation professor at DePaul University.

"There's kind of a, I think, assumption here that the next crisis is going to be like the last one and so a lot of these measures certainly will help, but there's a feel-good element to this, I think," he said.

The report recommends cutting out parts of the Lake Shore Drive median so drivers could turn around and having tow trucks close by when bad weather is coming.

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