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Metropolis planning for this weekend’s NASCAR race glorified drivers, ignored the wants of others


by Aoife Fahey

This weekend’s NASCAR Chicago Road Race will carry nonetheless extra automobile exhaust to a metropolis that already suffered a serious air high quality disaster this week. However one other main drawback with the occasion is that the Chicago and Illinois departments of transportation, and the Chicago Park District, have gone out of their strategy to decrease the impact the race could have on native drivers, whereas individuals on foot, bikes, and transit are hardly being thought-about in any respect. 

Word that I am a lifelong fan of NASCAR, and motorsports basically. However NASCAR occasions are sometimes mainly solely accessible through driving, and I’ve at all times dreamed of a NASCAR race I might entry utilizing transit with the identical ease I attend Sky, Sox, and Bulls video games. 

The issue with the NASCAR occasion isn’t the truth that native motorists should select different routes for 2 days so skilled drivers can hurl themselves by metropolis streets at 100 miles an hour, spewing noise and exhaust all over the place as they zoom in direction of the end line. The issue is that the federal government businesses are prioritizing the wants of drivers and vacationers over the these of on a regular basis Chicagoans.

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Pedestrian route by the park at Van Buren fenced off in preparation for the race. Photograph: Aoife Fahey

CDOT and IDOT have gone out of their method to ensure there are detours deliberate for drivers affected by the NASCAR road closures, publishing particular maps for every section of the mission, and making certain that civilian drivers won’t ever must journey quite a lot of blocks additional than ordinary. 

Alternatively, 25 CTA bus routes will likely be terminating early as a result of the occasion, avoiding streets that aren’t even closed as a result of deliberate impacts from NASCAR visitors, and dozens extra will likely be impacted with out the reroute.

The #2, #29, #65, #66, and #124 CTA buses already waste time sitting in car-driver-created visitors on Illinois Road and Grand Avenue as they strategy and go away Navy Pier. The closure of DuSable Lake Shore Drive at Grand Avenue for the NASCAR race would have been an incredible alternative for IDOT and CDOT to work collectively to pilot pop-up bus lanes to assist make sure that transit customers are in a position to journey freely even when automobile visitors is backed up.

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A number of CTA buses caught in visitors on their strategy to Navy Pier on June 16. Photograph: Aoife Fahey

As an alternative, this weekend the visitors jams on these streets, which leads to bus bunching and big delays on regular days, will end in 5 bus routes being closely delayed over their complete routes due to carmageddon downtown.

And the hassles that will likely be created for pedestrians this weekend are numerous. For instance strolling to Buckingham Fountain from the Artwork Institute of Chicago museum normally takes just some minutes. This weekend you may must stroll north on Michigan Avenue to Monroe Road, East on Monroe to DuSable Lake Shore drive, after which south alongside the drive to entry the fountain from the east, a distance of a couple of mile. Even for an able-bodies particular person strolling at a median velocity, this detour would flip a brief stroll right into a 20-minute journey.

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Van Buren and Congress. The ADA route has been closed whereas the steps stay open. Photograph: Aoife Fahey

As an alternative of questioning why NASCAR is allowed to close down Jackson, Columbus, and Balbo drives in Grant Park, we needs to be asking why these main streets although “Chicago’s Entrance Yard” are allowed to exist in any respect. If we are able to let corporations pay to close down these roadways for a money-making occasion, why cannot we shut them for good to create a safer, extra pleasant recreation area?

It doesn’t matter how a lot cash occasions like NASCAR carry to Chicago. They should not be taking on public area, and disrupting the mobility of on a regular basis Chicagoans.

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