LAKESHORE EAST — The city's renewed effort to pump the brakes on weekend street races Downtown has begun with an old-school tactic.
Representatives of the New Eastside Association of Residents told Lakeshore East neighbors Thursday that two new stop signs were recently installed at Columbus and Lower Lower Wacker drives in an apparent effort to curb the chronic screeching practice.
Neighbors for months have been calling police and Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) to report the weekend street racers. The speed racers for years have zipped through and near the lower levels of Wacker Drive, disturbing sleep and causing worry that someone will get hurt.
Reilly, police and the Chicago Department of Transportation have since pledged to address the issue through a number of means, including potentially speed bumps and security cameras.
Residents association president Richard Ward described the stop signs as a start but told police Thursday that they aren't nearly enough to deter the illegal races. Neighbors have said the weekend racers consistently scatter once police arrive on the scene, but return to racing as soon as police leave.
"We want an answer on why an undercover [police officer] hasn't been assigned to this," Ward said.
A stop sign at Columbus and Lower Lower Wacker Drive. [DNAinfo/David Matthews]
Additionally, a Reilly representative read a statement from the alderman at Thursday's Central District CAPS meeting urging police to regularly patrol the racing area between 11 p.m. and 3 a.m. on weekends.
Police have maintained they monitor the races and have impounded race cars. Central District Police Cmdr. Alfred J. Nagode told the residents association in April that police once wrote 125 traffic tickets on a single racing night.
Officer Jose Estrada, a Chicago Police spokesman, said Friday that police have "been working with a number of city agencies in an attempt to mediate" the races. He declined to elaborate on current or future measures police will take to stop them.
The transportation department installed the stop signs, and department spokesman Michael Claffey did not have an immediate comment.
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