LAKESHORE EAST — Years of weekend street races on Lower Wacker Drive have drawn the attention of the Downtown alderman, who is looking at speed bumps as a way to curtail the practice.
Chicago police told Lakeshore East neighbors last week that the department was working with Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) and the Chicago Department of Transportation "to try to combat the street drag racing problem" on Lower Wacker Drive, including the possibility of putting in new speed bumps.
"They’re looking at the placement of speed bumps as a deterrent," said Officer Jose Estrada, a Chicago Police spokesman. "Obviously many factors are being taken into account and we are actively working to resolve this problem."
Dave Matthews discusses the options police are considering:
Racers gathered earlier this year on Lower Wacker Drive [Lauren McLaughlin]
The discussions mark the latest effort to stop an illegal practice neighbors say draws up to 100 screeching cars late every weekend night. Neighbors say racers gather near the city's auto pound on the lowest level of Wacker Drive and — like the Batmobile did so famously in "The Dark Knight" — zip through the thoroughfare from roughly 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. on weekends. Warmer weather usually draws more cars, and with summer approaching, many Lakeshore East neighbors believe police response has been futile to date.
"We've called literally hundreds of times," said Lauren McLaughlin, who lives in a nearby Lakeshore East tower. "The cops come, make [the racers] all leave, and they come back 20 minutes later."
Central District Police Cmdr. Alfred J. Nagode told the New Eastside Association of Residents last month that police are monitoring the races, and once wrote 125 traffic tickets on a single night. Still, he admits stopping the races requires a more proactive effort.
"It's a problem that goes beyond district resources a lot of the time," he said at the meeting last month. "We have to make [Lower Wacker] an area where you can't do this."
It's unclear exactly when and where the speed bumps would be placed, and who would pay for them. Reilly, who told the residents group last month he was also looking at the possibility of installing security cameras to nab racers, declined to comment through a staff member, as did a transportation department spokesman. Estrada declined to elaborate on "other solutions" being considered and which areas would be targeted. Funding would come from either the transportation department or Reilly's ward infrastructure budget, police said.
Any solution would be welcome to Abby Fredrickson, who has lived in Lakeshore East for about a year and noticed the races "right away."
"It's literally 'Fast & the Furious,'" she said. "It's terrible."
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