Published November 15, 2005
If you're planning a trip next year from the Chicago area to northwest Indiana, here's a tip: Leave now.
It can already be a long and harrowing trip to Indiana with the roadwork on the Dan Ryan, the Kingery, the south end of the Tri-State and the entrance to the skyway. But it's going to get much worse: Gridlock is coming to a south Chicago highway near you, as five, count `em, five major roads are due for simultaneous repair work next year, according to Tribune transportation reporter Jon Hilkevitch.
The roll call of roads to be dug, repaired and resurfaced include the Borman, Kingery and Dan Ryan Expressways, the Tri-State Tollway and that longtime object of motorist frustration, the Chicago Skyway.
The big roadway surprise is the new work on the skyway, which was rebuilt and leased by the city for 99 years to a private consortium late last year. Looks like the road wasn't finished after all, as the city postponed major repairs back in 2003. Two more years of repairs are planned, two more years of traffic delays, headaches and frayed nerves.
Skyway officials plan to "break the bad news gently to motorists" this week, Hilkevitch wrote.
Consider the news broken. And there's no way to sugarcoat months of traffic misery, the kind that will affect trucking firms and commuters.
This schedule snafu is exactly that, a big mistake, which might have been moderated with a little more planning.
A phone call or two could have alerted state and regional transportation officials what was coming on the skyway. Instead, they were notified of the skyway repairs at a recent planning meeting.
Why isn't there more coordination among agencies, engineers and construction firms so that highway repairs are scheduled in a timely and orderly way? Look, we're from Chicago. As motorists, we know things are tough. Winters are harsh. Summers are short. And roads need to be fixed. All we're asking for is a little consideration for drivers and a better schedule for repair crews.
So, we'll pore over maps next year and try to navigate a quick way from Chicago to northwest Indiana--by boat.