The Fight Against Chicago's Circle Interchange
The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) plans to expand the Circle Interchange, an interchange at the confluence of the Dan Ryan, Kennedy and Eisenhower Expressways (Interstates 90/94 and 290), and Congress Parkway in Chicago. IDOT is proposing to construct three flyover ramps as part of their four year, $450 million dollar improvement plan. Two ramps will go over Harrison Street (west of Halsted and just east of South Des Plaines Street). Another ramp will go over Halsted Street (south of Van Buren Street) and will divide the Greektown neighborhood. The (enormous) 20' tall flyover ramp at Halsted will include 12' lanes and 10' shoulders to accommodate 40,000 cars per day. Based on CNU's experience with urban freeway removal, expanding the interchange at a time of declining VMT and changing transportation patterns is a bad deal for taxpayers; often times, that's the argument for removing or reducing the highway footprint in the urban environment. The expansion will undoubtedly negatively affect the surrounding neighborhood's safety, property values, and health outcomes as CNU has well documented in its Model Cities research.
Lamentably, the interchange project was included in the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP)'s GO TO 2040 Plan (check out the Metropolitan Planning Council's response to that issue here) contrary to CMAP's own assessment that the interchange project will do little to ease congestion or spur economic growth. Residents in the Greektown and the West Loop Residents Association have responded to this challenge wth plans to stop IDOT's project. The neighborhood residents have circulated a petition and are will walk in protest at the next IDOT public meeting on Thursday, June 27. You can view (and sign) the petition here: http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/chicago-area-residents. The next IDOT public meeting on the reconstruction will be held on Thursday, June 27th from 5 PM to 8 PM at the Crown Plaza Hotel (733 West Madison). You can also learn more about the neighborhood movement against the expanded interchange here: http://stopidot.org.
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