WBEZ | expressways http://www.wbez.org/tags/expressways Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Why the Kennedy backs up at the Edens junction http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-06/why-kennedy-backs-edens-junction-107813 <p><p>If you&rsquo;ve ever driven the Kennedy Expressway to O&rsquo;Hare&mdash;or to the far Northwest Side&mdash;you know about this bottleneck.&nbsp; You sail through the Edens junction, and suddenly everything comes to a screeching halt. Traffic crawls along for the next few miles, until you pass Harlem Avenue. Then&nbsp;the highway&nbsp;opens up again.</p><p>Why does this happen? It all goes back to the original design.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/06-24--Junction_8.JPG" title="Smooth sailing at the Junction--it's Sunday morning!" /></div><p>In the 1950s, when Chicago&rsquo;s expressways were being built, they were geared toward moving traffic to and from the center of the city. Crosstown travel was rarely factored into the planning. Therefore, there was no ramp from the inbound Edens to the outbound Kennedy. Likewise, there was no ramp from the inbound Kennedy to the outbound Edens.</p><p>The Kennedy-Edens junction was complicated enough, with three railroad lines and busy Cicero Avenue right there. Building two additional ramps would involve additional land clearance and be wildly expensive.&nbsp; Therefore, the planners didn&rsquo;t bother with them.</p><p>During the 1960s, a Crosstown Expressway was proposed as an extension of the Edens south along Cicero. This meant that a full Kennedy-Edens interchange would be built. But the Crosstown was never constructed, and the Kennedy-Edens junction remained as it was.</p><p>So today, if you&rsquo;re on the inbound Kennedy (I-90) and want to access the outbound Edens (I-94), you drive through the junction and take the first exit at Keeler. Then you turn left on Keeler, drive under the Kennedy, and take another left&nbsp;up the next ramp. Now you&rsquo;re on the outbound Kennedy, and can get&nbsp;to the Edens.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Keeler%20cross-under.JPG" title="The notorious Keeler cross-under" /></div><p>You can follow the same procedure going from the inbound Edens to the outbound Kennedy&mdash;drive through the junction, then use the Keeler exit/entrance maneuver. But most drivers follow a different route.</p><p>Want to get from the inbound Edens to the outbound Kennedy? Exit at Cicero-Foster,&nbsp;then drive west on surface streets.&nbsp;After a mile or so you can get on the outbound Kennedy at Foster, or at Nagle-Bryn Mawr.</p><p>Now you have all this traffic getting on the outbound Kennedy at Foster, and at Nagle-Bryn Mawr. Meanwhile, there&rsquo;s a significant curve in the expressway that slows&nbsp;things down in the stretch between these two entrances. Result&mdash;a three-mile jam back to the Edens junction.</p><p>So, how to solve this mess?</p><p>1&mdash;Eliminate the Sayre exit. This exit was actually meant to serve Talcott Avenue, which was Illinois Route 62 when the expressway was constructed. The exit is little used today, and is only a few hundred feet from the Harlem exit.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Sayre%20Exit-02%20%282012%29.JPG" title="Is this exit necessary?" /></div><p>2&mdash;Build segregated acceleration/deceleration lanes along the outbound Kennedy between Nagle and Harlem. There&rsquo;s&nbsp;lots of space for them, though the greenery would have to be sacrificed.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Kennedy%20west%20of%20Nagle.JPG" title="Kennedy west of Nagle--plenty of room for extra lanes" /></div><p>I&rsquo;m not a traffic engineer, so I don&rsquo;t know if this is the best solution to the problem. But the present arrangement sure isn&rsquo;t working.</p></p> Mon, 24 Jun 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-06/why-kennedy-backs-edens-junction-107813 Why the Kennedy curves at Division Street http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-08/why-kennedy-curves-division-street-101066 <p><p>The year was 1946. Chicago had been talking about building expressways for decades. Now that World War II was over, the vision could become a reality. &nbsp;</p><p>In 1946 there was no federal interstate highway program. The city, county and state were funding the $177 million Northwest (Kennedy) Expressway. As the original name suggests, the new road was going to run northwest from downtown, mostly alongside the Chicago &amp; North Western Railroad.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/00--Map%20of%201946%20NW%20Expressway%20revision.jpg" title="Northwest Expressway, 1946 route revision (Chicago Tribune: December 14, 1946)" /></div><p>Just north of Division Street, the expressway was routed through a heavily-populated Polish area. Hundreds of homes would have to be torn down. And though the road was to be depressed, the historic St. Stanislaus Kostka Church would be cut off from much of the neighborhood.</p><p>The Poles were Chicago&rsquo;s largest ethnic group. No politician wanted to alienate that many voters. Therefore, on December 13, Governor Dwight Green announced a revised route. The section of the expressway near the church would be moved east of the C&amp;NW tracks and run on a viaduct over Elston Avenue.</p><p>&ldquo;We feel that the protection of community interests justifies the increased expense,&rdquo; the governor said. That appeared to end the controversy.</p><p>Years passed. By 1955 work was ready to begin. The state now decided the Elston viaduct was too expensive. The expressway would follow the cheapest route, along the C&amp;NW line. And under this plan, St. Stan&rsquo;s itself would have to be bulldozed.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/00--Ald%20Joe%20Rostenkowski.jpg" title="Alderman Joe Rostenkowski (author's collection)" /></div><p>That spring, a civil engineer named Bernard Prusinski ran for 32nd Ward alderman on a &ldquo;Save St. Stan&rsquo;s&rdquo; platform. He upset longtime incumbent Joe Rostenkowski to win the election. Once in office, Prusinski went to work getting the expressway moved &mdash; again.</p><p>The Prusinski plan was to curve the C&amp;NW tracks a few hundred yards east, onto land that was mostly vacant. Then the expressway would follow this route. The additional cost would be minor, and the Mother Church of Chicago Poles would be preserved.</p><p>The state agreed to the change. So today, when you travel the Kennedy, you can see where the road curves around the church, just as Prusinski proposed. But there&rsquo;s a final bit of irony here.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/00--Expressway%20curve%20near%20Division%20%281961-City%20of%20Chicago%29%20-%20Copy.jpg" title="Northwest Expressway at Division, 1961 (City of Chicago)" /></div><p>In 1958 Joe Rostenkowski&rsquo;s son Dan was elected to Congress. Dan Rostenkowski stayed at that job for 36 years and became a power on Capitol Hill. All that time he kept a residence a block from St. Stan&rsquo;s.</p><p>Somewhere along the line, the legend developed that the congressman had been the person who&rsquo;d saved St. Stan&#39;s. And now that stretch of expressway near the church &mdash; which helped drive Dan Rostenkowski&#39;s father from office &mdash; is nicknamed Rosty&rsquo;s Curve.</p></p> Wed, 22 Aug 2012 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-08/why-kennedy-curves-division-street-101066 Traffic reporter Sarah Jindra unwinds Chicago's roadways http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2012-01-09/traffic-reporter-sarah-jindra-unwinds-chicagos-roadways-95387 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2012-January/2012-01-09/6808858_600x338.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Traffic reporter Sarah Jindra gave <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> listeners the history of Chicago’s main roadways and explains why some keep Chicagoans from getting to work on time. She also explained how she determines estimated times of arrival.&nbsp;</p><p>Music Button: Cake, "Stickshifts and Safetybelts", from the album Fashion Nugget, (Volcano)</p></p> Mon, 09 Jan 2012 15:55:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2012-01-09/traffic-reporter-sarah-jindra-unwinds-chicagos-roadways-95387