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."
Chair, Citizens for Appropriate Transportation