Sixty years later Oak Park still trying to control the path of the Eisenhower

Opinion: Editorials

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Sixty years ago, Oak Park was its usual pain-in-the-patoot self when it used every trick and connection it had to shape the path of the Eisenhower Super Highway, carving its way through the village. That's why we have the only left-hand exits off the Ike. That's why plans to have another exit at East Avenue were aborted leaving only those tall cement walls on the east side of the bridge there.

Now the Illinois Department of Transportation (aka the road-building lobby) is going through its endless charade of studying options for expanding the Ike through the near-west suburbs as it prepares for a total rebuild of the aging highway late this decade.

Keeping the Ike within its current ditch is the number-one goal of Oak Park's vigorous village government. Extending public transit options further west is goal number two. Adding a lane in each direction is only favored if the first two goals are met.

Now with its typical aplomb, Oak Park officials are seeking landmark status for multiple structures along the banks of the Ike. IDOT would be hard-pressed to widen the ditch if it couldn't touch the Maze Branch Library at Gunderson or the Conservatory at East Avenue. We're partial to the Volvo dealer at Harlem and Open Door Repertory at Ridgeland. Hell, landmark the whole stretch.

While they're at it, the village is also considering seeking landmark status for those historic left-hand exits. It would be worth pursuing this just to see the sputtering response from IDOT bureaucrats.

Reader Comments

9 Comments - Add Your Comment

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John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 11th, 2013 12:12 PM

Muntz - I still don't see why the west expansion is an Oak Park issue. Does OP have any support from other western communities? In 2009, when the Madison Housing (now Grove Apartments) was being debated, one of advantages stated by the OP Housing advocates was that Oak Park was a great choice for the subsidized housing because it had great transportation that would help the Grove Apartment residents get to work. Opponents cited the fact that the jobs were west and ended at the Oak Park border. That might be one reason for OP's support of CTA west expansion, but it can't be the only reason. Maybe the dream is that expansion will bring more suburbanites to OP to shop. If the OP interest are for the good of the western neighbors, why are they not challenging IDOT? If it is solely for issues that are related to OP, aren't we being a bit greedy in the use of roadblocks?

We don't like Ike  

Posted: July 11th, 2013 11:57 AM

Nothing against widening the Ike in the current ditch...but let's not be fooled that it will solve anything. Oak Park, correctly, is trying to get IDOT & the region away from simply building more road as a longterm strategy. The aim is to make the culture less car-focused...or at least put peds, bikes, trains, etc. on an even footing with cars.

muntz  

Posted: July 11th, 2013 11:33 AM

@JBM-If you don't plan for a CTA West expansion during the Ike expansion, you probably won't get another chance. Real estate is tight throughout the corridor. Unless you include space in the median to accommodate CTA trains at some point in the future, you'll lose your shot at any CTA westward expansion. I agree the overall plan shouldn't be held hostage as the priority should be reducing traffic congestion, but all options should be vetted completely.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 11th, 2013 10:35 AM

Sure don't understand the blockade having the CTA West as a critical objective. Will someone please tell me what benefits OP derives from a CTA extension?

Sergio from Oak Park  

Posted: July 11th, 2013 9:59 AM

I agree with all of these comments. The WJ is out of touch, and so is Village Hall. The lies from Village staff and bad reporting from this paper are outrageous and unethical. IDOT can and should build a 4th lane. I'm tired of cars avoiding 290 congestion and clogging Oak Park streets. I'm tired of the extra commute time when I drive home from Chicago. I'm tired of the lack of vision in Oak Park. Transportation can foster growth in our town. Build the 4th lanes and replace the ramps!

Chris from OP  

Posted: July 10th, 2013 8:13 PM

I see the head-in-the-sand crew is at it again at the WJ. I wonder if this bunch has a clue what most Oak Parkers think (about anything).

MichaelO from Oak Park  

Posted: July 10th, 2013 3:11 PM

Shouldn't the number-one goal of the village be to protect the interests of the citizen's of the village? In this case reducing the ridiculous amount of traffic the south Village endures every day because of a broken super highway? Does extending public transit, (namely the Blue Line) further west really benefit the citizens of Oak Park - beyond the abstract? Is it the role of the Village board to modify the behavior of regional commuters? Frankly the whole exercise smacks of arrogance.

Cdonovan2  

Posted: July 10th, 2013 2:22 PM

IDOT won't be the only one sputtering as the Village leadership continues to try to "throw a kink in IDOT's plans" for the Ike. Stop wasting money and staff time (i.e. more money) obstructing the improvement of transportation for the region.

dangerous ramps  

Posted: July 10th, 2013 7:31 AM

As a taxpayer, I don't want to pay the excessive cost to move the center line (and blue line) to accommodate one community. This is about regional transportation necessity, not OP. We should close both ramps to save cost.

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