In many cities in the U.S., public transportation is not a reliable way to get to and from a job but, here in Chicago it is sometimes the best way to travel.
Starting Nov. 29, the Halsted Bridge at Division Street was closed, creating a detour and extra congestion for residents living in the River North Area. The detour takes cars as well as bikes east to Larrabee Street via Chicago Avenue and Division Street.
According the Dan Burke of the Chicago Department of Transportation, the reconstruction of the Halsted Street Bridge will commence in December 2011 and the projected cost of the new bridge is $15 million.
“The Halsted Bridge had reached the end of its service life,” said Burke. “When finished it will have four lanes with bike lanes and sidewalks for pedestrians.”
Gina Bonfiglio, 27, works and lives in River North. She says that one of the reasons she lives in the area is so she doesn’t have to worry about commuting to her job.
“Everything I need is right here, “Bonfiglio said. “If I cannot get somewhere by walking I will just take public transportation, that is one of the best things about Chicago,”
According to Mike Riordan, president of the River North Residents Association, Larabee Street has always been a congested street.
“The residents in River North are already used to the congestion on Larrabee as well as Chicago Avenue. People are pretty understanding about it,” said Riordan.
Riordan also believes that people in the River North area have alternative means of transportation for work. Riordan says that most residents seem to walk or take public transportation.
“The people in River North just seem to be sucking it up, when it comes to the traffic. I have heard no complaints,” said Riordan.
River North has the Brown and Purple Line station accessible at Chicago Avenue and Franklin Street and buses run on Chicago Avenue every 10 minutes, according to the CTA website.
John Wilkinson, 27, has been commuting to work in River North for the past year; the bridge closing has not affected him and he does not believe it affects many commuters.
“The only people concerned with the closing of the Halsted Bridge at Division would be people who have to commute somewhere that won’t allow them to use the highway. The rest of us just park our cars in a garage and jump on an El,” said Wilkinson.
Sharon Romack from the River North Business Association is not concerned with the rerouting of traffic onto Larabee Street. Romack says that none of the business owners in River North has come forward and complained of the closure.
“I rode the Brown Line every day to work when I lived in the South Loop. Congestion and rush hour is just a part of Chicago. Take it or leave it,” said Bonfiglio.