I think one problem with the event last week (IDOT “open house”) was that there was no clear statement of the problem. [IDOT’s ‘new look’ at Ike makes Oak Park shudder, News, Nov. 11] Maps were simply laid out on the table and visitors vaguely invited to comment. I think we first need to agree on a clear statement of the problem. My suggestion would be: How can we reduce car traffic on the Eisenhower? What options can we give people to get downtown and back, especially commuters who drive the same route every day?
I am concerned that widening would increase car traffic on the Eisenhower and could jeopardize future rail development by using up the space available. I think that extending the Blue Line to Mannheim Road should be our first priority. No highway work should impede this possibility in any way.
Stations could be installed at Mannheim, 25th Avenue, 17th Avenue and 1st Avenue. Trains could run express from Des Plaines to the Loop for a speedy trip (I understand the CTA already owns space for this in the Eisenhower trench). As the Hillside Landfill (right behind the Hillside Best Western, at Mannheim) has closed, could parking for the Mannheim Road station be installed on this property?
Later, the CTA could be extended with stations at Wolf Road, York Road and Route 83. No highway work should impede this extension. In the end, we must give citizens easy options to get downtown without driving when they don’t have a use for their cars once they get there. I urge IDOT to embrace this inevitable urban-planning necessity.