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Western Overpass Demolition 'Dumbest' Idea Ever, Readers Say

By Patty Wetli | January 5, 2016 12:51pm

ROSCOE VILLAGE — The Belmont-Western viaduct may look like it's "ready to crumble any minute" but demolishing the deteriorating overpass in favor of a five-leg intersection is "going to suuuuuuuuuck," readers said.

News that the ramp's long-delayed date with the wrecking ball is imminent met with a near-universal chorus of "ughs" from people on both sides of the aisle — fans of the viaduct and its detractors — who posted their dismay to Facebook and Neighborhood Square.

"Literally my favorite strip of road to drive on in the city," wrote one reader. "Makes sense they are getting rid of it. Keeps with the 'city sucking worse every day' vibe we got going on."

Though many agreed that the viaduct, which carries more than 35,000 cars daily, is "quite hideous" and a "visual blight" on the area, plenty were willing to put up with a bit of ugliness for a speedier commute.

"Stupidest decision IDOT [actually CDOT] has made. They are going to create insurmountable chaos and traffic turning that into 4 way stop," one reader posted.

"These infernal six-way intersections are an absolute bane to smooth and orderly traffic flow. This overpass provides a welcome bit of relief from the maddening congestion caused by, or least exacerbated by, these damned intersections," echoed another.

"I will never get home from work," one simply stated.

The viaduct was constructed in 1961 largely to ease congestion around the now defunct Riverview Amusement Park.

"Going to Riverview, I always considered the overpass to be the First Ride of The Day," posted one reader.

But the aging ramp, labeled "structurally deficient," is less than thrilling for at least one pedestrian, who said she sees "chunks of bridge fall off" the viaduct "almost daily."

Yet even those who consider the overpass an eyesore and a hazard are dreading the havoc construction will wreak on traffic and businesses, particularly given the project's likely overlap with work on the Damen/Fullerton/Elston intersection.

"Have two major N/S arteries closed at the same time?!?!?!?!? Makes no sense!" posted one reader. "This is one of the dumbest planning decisions ever!"

"It sounds lovely BUT the traffic will be a nightmare because Western Ave is a busy avenue," said another. "And even without construction it's a cluster f***."

"It's going to be such a nightmare! It better be worth the headache," posted a reader.

Though in the minority among commenters, some were unequivocal in their support for the viaduct's demolition, declaring "Tear that sucker down!" and "Kill it with fire!"

Slightly longer travel times would be worth the gains, according to one reader.

The viaduct "doesn't add that much throughput to the traffic times regardless, it just shunts the backups to the next major intersections in any direction," the reader noted. "Land values for everyone along the overpass' route are going to go up nicely, and it'll certainly look much nicer when it's all said and done."

A construction timeline and design details will be presented at a community meeting 7-9 p.m. Monday in Lane Tech's cafeteria, 2501 W. Addison St.

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