Extra Ike lanes aren't logical if they don't work

Opinion: Letters To The Editor

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This is my response to Dan Haley's "Oak Park's strangler" column (Sept. 25):

On adding two more lanes, Dan says, "It's not a panacea but it is only logical to remove the Oak Park strangler."

It is not logical if it does not work. The best of the four Build Alternatives IDOT wants to carry forward reduces the current 17 hours of weekday congestion by 45 minutes, assuming IDOT's projections to the Year 2040 are accurate.

In their Connections Newsletter (Summer 2013), IDOT says center ramps have more crashes than right-hand side ramps. A 1969 Illinois study found left-side entrance ramps had a 60 percent higher crash rate than right-side entrance ramps. Left-side exit ramps had a 90 percent higher crash rate than right-side exit ramps. Why did IDOT wait 44 years to start dealing with the problem?

A 2009 Florida study of 19 ramps (four with left-side exits) found left-side exits have 180 percent more total crashes than right-side exits. IDOT used the highest number it could find based on a study with just four left-side exits. Mannheim Road also has a high number of crashes, but it has right-hand ramps.

CTA's involvement in IDOT's Study is a plus. The CTA's priority is the existing Blue Line from Clinton to Forest Park because their finances are limited. They will "review" IDOT's plans to extend transit to Mannheim Road.

IDOT says transit improvements alone cannot "address the mobility issues along I-290 in any meaningful way," but some people do not have access to a car. Transit planners distinguish between "choice riders" and "captive riders." Choice riders have access to a car but choose to use transit. Captive riders do not have access to a car, so driving is not an option.

Because there are different funding sources for IDOT and the CTA, it is possible we will have a rebuilt expressway for years before having an improved CTA Blue Line.

I agree with Dan on the need to focus on the proposed right-hand side ramps because they are "life-altering for people who live along the highway."

Rick Kuner

Chair, Citizens for Appropriate Transportation

Oak Park

Reader Comments

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Bruce Samuels from Oak Park  

Posted: October 31st, 2013 9:10 PM

The majority of people who attended past IDOT meetings did not want extra lanes on the Ike and submitted comments saying so. The loudest applause at the Brooks meeting was for working on the Blue Line first. Over 20 years ago the CTA proposed tearing down the Lake Street El. The public formed the Lake Street El Coalition, and the C of C and the Village all joined forces. Result: Somehow over $300 million dollars was found to rebuild the line, increase quality, and ridership boomed.


Posted: October 23rd, 2013 3:17 PM

I hope that anyone who supports the additional lanes on the Ike attend tonight's meeting in Forest Park and next week's meeting in Oak Park to speak your mind on this issue. Let IDOT know that there are people in Oak Park who see the necessity of these improvements, especially since it will all stay in the Trench. SEE YOU THERE!

Sergio from Oak Park  

Posted: October 23rd, 2013 2:12 PM

This letter isn't logical, lanes are. Of course adding a fourth lane will reduce congestion and reduce time on the Ike. And all the evidence shows that the left ramps are dangerous. Good for IDOT finally pushing to get it done right in the face of a vocal minority in OP. Clearly the majority wants 290 improvements because we USE it. And the letter doesn't mention that OP streets will see less traffic once the Ike gets a 4th lane. The tiny NIMBY crowd is losing all credibility.

Embarrassed to be from Oak Park  

Posted: October 23rd, 2013 11:52 AM

Jim: And you (and certain village officials voicing the same sentiment) sound like you have a grudge against people in Elburn. Your question could just as easily be phrased: "Why bulldoze OP homes so someone in Elburn gets to the loop in one piece?" Ask the family of the two Bellwood women killed last summer in a headon crash with a confused driver coming the wrong way down the Harlem ramp directly into the fast lane how they feel about Oak Park's left lane ramps.

Jim from South Oak Park  

Posted: October 23rd, 2013 11:08 AM

@Embarrassed. Sounds more like a grudge against OP than a solution. Go back to Ike's design: OP's concern was not losing land to the expressway. That's why it went on RR right-of-way. Yes, we want to keep it "in the ditch" now, too. Why bulldoze OP homes so someone in Elburn gets to the loop faster? I'm with Dan Haley: The fourth lane is a done deal. Right-hand ramps, too. Here's my criteria: Do that so it reduces air and noise pollution. And don't build eyesores that rise in the local skyline.

Embarrassed to be from Oak Park  

Posted: October 23rd, 2013 12:18 AM

Why did IDOT wait 44 years?!?! Oh please. For one, the dangerous left lane ramp problem was created by Oak Park exceptionalism when the Ike was first designed. And Oak Park still opposes the fix. If the fix is convoluted and expensive, it is again only because of Oak Park exceptionalism. The question isn't why IDOT waited so long, but why do Oak Park's selfish property considerations trump traffic safety for both Oak Park citizens and drivers from throughout the region?

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: October 22nd, 2013 10:55 PM

Right side/left side debates are for traffic aficianados. For the common folk, it is how can we get out of OP (west or east) when we decide to visit the "other world." I think it is time to end the lobbying and let IDOT make its decision.

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