Wednesday, February 2, 2011

What a mess along Lake Shore Drive in Chicago -- blizzard followup

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The biggest story besides the 20 plus inches that made Tuesday night's snow storm the third worst in Chicago history is the traffic jam that sits like an auto cemetery along the north stretch of Lake Short Drive. More than 1,000 cars were stuck on the drive as a result of building snow, accidents and waves from the lake.

Many motorists remained in their cars until their gas was exhausted, as long as 10 hours, though they were able to make their way over the medium fence and cement blocks to St. Joseph's hospital and other warming centers that did their best to help.

City tow trucks tried to slowly remove the one thousand abandoned cars but late into the night tonight, most remain stuck in the roof-high snow drifts that are making it near impossible to efficiently remove the cars.

Here is what AP reported in a sad testimony to the mounting confusion and problems:

Chicago - Dozens of motorists were stranded for over 10 hours on Chicago's iconic Lake Shore Drive after it was shut down as a blizzard battered the city. Although cars have been relocated from the roadway, there was no indication when the drive would reopen to traffic.
City officials said that 1,000 cars were stranded on the roadway overnight. 
City officials said if you abandoned your car on Lake Shore Drive, you can call 311 to try to locate it. All vehicles have been relocated to three city lakefront lots -- Wilson Ave., Belmont Ave. and Chicago Ave. -- plus one lot on Wells Street.  Drivers will be able to retrieve their cars for free.
City officials said early Wednesday that multiple lanes of cars and buses became stuck on the northbound lanes of the city's crucial thoroughfare because of abandoned vehicles, multiple accidents and generally poor traffic conditions.
I like the way they report that the cars are being removed to three lots, when they are really being removed to four lots. And if you abandoned your car on Lake Shore Drive, you can call 311 to "try to locate it."
Yikes. Lame duck Mayor Richard M. Daley's chief of staff Ray Orozco, the former Fire Department Chief, said he is responsible for the decision to keep Lake Shore Drive open.
But I ask, why wouldn't the city have kept Lake Shore Drive open? Can you imagine the complaints from whiny Chicagoans if they shut down Lake Shore Drive? It would have been worse than what happened.
Chicago and Orozco deserve credit for doing their best to help people who tried to get home Tuesday night. Are we going to blame Chicago for the blizzard/ They predicted that the blizzard would bring even more snow than actually hit the Chicagoland area. It's not like we were not prepared. But Chicagoans are sometimes the biggest babies if things don't go their way. They want Chicago to do everything for them and in fact Chicago did a lot providing help and doing their best to sort through a Lake Shore Drive auto cemetery mess.
It may take days for some of the motorists to find their cars on the three lots where they were moved, but that's all just a part of the blizzard. It's the way it is.
I don't think anyone has the right to blame Orozco or the city for doing their best, even if Lake SHore Drive remains a mess through -- my guess -- Friday and maybe in to the weekend. The motorists stuck on Lake Shore Drive made the choice to take Lake Short Drive home knowing the city was going to be slammed with a major storm at 3 PM -- it's not like we were not warned sufficiently. They were told and yet many including all those stuck on Lake Shore Drive did not leave work until after 4 pm.
It's just the way it is, a tragic story in a horrible blizzard.
But like I have already written, we live in Chicago and the winters here can be hell. Whether it is the worst snow storm or the region's third worst, it doesn't matter. We made the choice to live here so QUIT WHINING about the snow.
The real problem are the motorists and homeowners who selfishly care only about themselves, shoveling snow in to the street, trying to drive through two feet of snow and then are surprised when their car gets stuck in the middle of a neighborhood side street and then blocking that street and preventing city plows from clearing the snow.
And when the snow is plowed, where does it go? It has to go on the side of the street where the cars are parked and the motorists clean the snow off their cars pushing it back in to the street.
Can anyone really wonder why Chicagoans get in more fights over parking  spots in front of their homes reserved with chairs, pinochle tables and wine and cheese serving trays?
People should assume responsibility sometimes and quit always blaming government.
-- Ray Hanania

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