Tuesday, August 9, 2016

August 9, 1972 -- Traffic Study Critical of Proposed Bridge on Columbus Drive

August 9, 1972:  A traffic study is released that concludes “Traffic conditions in the Near North Michigan Avenue area will be ‘nearly intolerable’ if the city constructs a bridge over the Chicago River at Columbus Drive.”  The report, prepared for the Greater North Michigan Avenue Association by R. W. Booker & Associates, partially validates a report issued earlier in the week by the Chicago Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.  The report observes that the city has not planned well in proposing a bridge that will connect Fairbanks Court north of the river with Columbus Drive and the developing Illinois Center property to the south.  Taking a special hit is the massive traffic jam that is anticipated during the lengthy reconstruction of the dogleg on Lake Shore Drive north of Randolph Street.  The report makes six recommendations to relieve problems in the River North area if the bridge is built.  They include:  (1) employing rapid transit or people mover systems in the area; (2) widening Fairbanks Court and making it one way south, in the area north of Ontario Street; (3) better enforcement of peak traffic rules and parking regulations in the area; (4) eliminating on-street parking in the area and creating new off-street parking areas; (5) making Ontario and Ohio Streets one way between Fairbanks and Lake Shore Drive and developing grade separation of these two streets with Lake Shore Drive; and (6) making thoro (sic) studies of alternate methods of handling traffic during the reconstruction of Lake Shore Drive, including staged construction to permit continued, limited use of the Drive.  [Chicago Tribune, August 10, 1972]  The bridge was finished in 1982 for a cost of $33,000,000, bringing almost instantaneous development of the area north of the river and east of Columbus Drive.

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