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Lincoln Park in Rush Hour 'Gridlock' After Cortland Bridge Closed

By Paul Biasco | June 11, 2015 5:37am
 The Cortland Street Bridge closure has caused major traffic issues in the neighborhood.
The Cortland Street Bridge closure has caused major traffic issues in the neighborhood.
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DNAinfo/Paul Biasco

LINCOLN PARK — The closure of the Cortland Street Bridge has resulted in gridlocked traffic all across Lincoln Park and could be a sign of what's to come when new residential developments are complete, some say.

The heavily-trafficked bridge, one of the few east-west routes across the river on the North Side, has been closed since June 1 and won't re-open until the fall.

"This is how it is. It's just gridlock," said Victor Roldan, a Forest Glen resident who was working on a construction project along Clybourn Avenue near Cortland earlier this week. "Everybody is trying to shoot through the side streets."

The closure of the bridge is impacting an estimated 10,000 vehicles per day who typically travel across Cortland, according to new 2nd Ward Ald. Brian Hopkins.

Paul Biasco says that gridlock could become the norm soon:

Engineers with the Chicago Department of Transportation are currently studying the new traffic patterns and will be making adjustments to the traffic signals in the neighborhood in the next week or two, according to CDOT spokesman Michael Claffey.

"The goal is to time the signals to get the best possible traffic flow for these routes during construction," he said.

CDOT has provided an official detour route, but given the number of side streets in the area, many drivers have tried to find their own quicker route, which has led to greater backups.

"Motorists don't always behave in a predictive manner," Hopkins said. "We have to respond to what motorists are actually doing and adjust the lights accordingly."

Kathy Ropka, a Lincoln Park mom, is trying to find a new route, any route, to get her son to baseball practice.

Just getting through the neighborhood, usually heading west down Wrightwood to Western, has added about 20 minutes to her trip.

The huge delays and bumper-to-bumper traffic could be a glimpse into the future driving conditions in the neighborhood if major transportation infrastructure improvements aren't made, according to Hopkins.

"This is providing an example of what could happen when you start adding more density in the area," Hopkins said.

More density is surely on the way as the massive New City development nears completion in the fall, the Children's Memorial Hospital site is redeveloped and the former industrial area around the Finkl Steel site is developed. There are also nearly a dozen high-rise residential projects popping up in the Old Town and Near North areas.

Hopkins said his office has been flooded with calls regarding the traffic situation.

"We are getting an interesting experiment of what would happen if you add 10,000 vehicles to the surrounding streets," Hopkins said. "It's frustrating drivers and causing lengthy delays."

The Cortland Bridge, a two-lane bridge, has been closed to repair some "under-pinning," or reinforcements, to the structure, which are critically deteriorated.

One sidewalk across the bridge remains open to pedestrian and bike traffic.

Detour map. [Lincoln Park Chamber of Commerce]

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