NATO closures emerge, including Kennedy and Lake Shore Drive
BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org May 4, 2012 2:30PM
Gary Schenkel, executive director of the Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC), makes a statement at the podium. Local and federal agencies involved in the planning and preparation for the NATO Summit answer questions regarding security restrictions and transportation plans for the 25th NATO Summit, to be held in Chicago on May 20-21. Officials make themselves available at the 911 Emergency Communications Center on Friday, May 4, 2012. | Richard A. Chapman~Sun-Times
Updated: June 6, 2012 8:07AM
Chicago residents, employees and businesses will be forced to endure road closures, parking restrictions and changes to city services and public transportation routes — and three Chicago museums will be forced to close for a day — to protect world leaders attending the NATO summit, the U.S. Secret Service announced Friday.
The inconveniences that Chicagoans have long anticipated will begin with parking restrictions at 6 a.m. Sunday May 13, one week before President Barack Obama and more than 50 world leaders are expected to gather at McCormick Place.
Another round of parking restrictions will kick in on Tuesday May 15 in “limited areas” near the convention center.
Road closures and pedestrian restrictions will take effect at midnight Friday May 18. Roads will re-open in time for the Monday evening rush hour.
In addition to the road closures and parking restrictions, there will be “intermittent traffic delays and temporary closures on interstate roads” as motorcades carrying world leaders make their way to and from McCormick Place and other events sites.
Hours before the Secret Service lowered the boom, Mayor Rahm Emanuel tried once again to convince city residents, employees and businesses it will be worth the headache to showcase Chicago on the world stage.
“I don’t minimize it. There will be inconvenience. There will be change for those three days. They’re making those plans to accommodate people in close proximity — the residents — and I don’t minimize there will be an inconvenience. But, we are not the only city to have had [world] forums,” the mayor said.
“I think we’re lucky to have this. It’s fortunate, given the economic opportunity here for this city. That said, they will lay it out. People will then be able to make adjustments for that Saturday, Sunday and part of Monday morning.”
Later Friday, officials told reporters at the city’s Office of Emergency Management that an actual fence around McCormick Place remains “under evaluation” and hasn’t been finalized.
“At this point, any businesses or any residents that would have been impacted by a hard perimeter have already been contacted by the United States Secret Service,” said Deb Kirby, chief of the Chicago Police Department’s Office of International Relations.
Frank Benedetto, special agent in charge of the Secret Service’s Chicago field office, said no residences are expected to be inside the proposed fence.
“All residents will be able to access their homes by vehicles,” Benedetto said. “All businesses will be open.”
Roadways that will see intermittent closures include the Kennedy Expy. between O’Hare Airport and downtown; Ohio from the Kennedy to Columbus Drive; Ontario from Fairbanks/Columbus to the Kennedy; the Ryan between the circle and I-55 and Roosevelt Rd., 18th Street and Canalport Ave. access from the outbound Dan Ryan Expy.
Another round of road closures and pedestrian restrictions kick in at 12:01 a.m., Saturday May 19 and will re-open in time for the Monday evening rush hour.
Those closures include: Lake Shore Drive between Balbo and 39th; I-55 between the Ryan and Lake Shore Drive; Columbus Drive at Balbo; Roosevelt Road between Michigan Avenue and Lake Shore Drive; Indiana between 21st and 25th; Calumet from Cullerton to Cermak; Prairie between 21st and 25th; 21st between Indiana and Calumet; Cermak from Michigan Avenue to King Drive; 24th Place and 25th Street between King Drive and State; Wabash from 24th Place to 25th Street; King Drive from 26th Street to Cermak; Moe Drive from 31st to Mines; 31st from Cottage Grove to Fort Dearborn Drive and Fort Dearborn Drive from 31st Street to Lakeside Center.
An entire week of parking restrictions will take effect, beginning at 6 a.m. Tuesday May 15, on the streets surrounding McCormick Place. Impacted streets include South Calumet Avenue between Cullerton and Cermak; South Prairie Avenue and Indiana Avenue between 21st and 25th; 21st Street between Calumet and Indiana; Cermak between Indiana and King Drive; 24th Place between Indiana and State; 25th Street between State and King Drive; and King Drive between Cermak and 26th.
At the museum campus, the Adler Planetarium, Field Museum and Shedd Aquarium will be open on Saturday May 19. But, parking will be limited to the top three floors of the Soldier field North Lot and the Adler lot. All of those lots will close with the museums at 5:30 p.m. Saturday. Vehicles that remain will be towed to an off-site lot.
At 6 p.m. Saturday, Northerly Island, formerly known as Meigs Field, will closed to vehicles and pedestrians, along with the “northern museum campus.”
The Planetarium, Field Museum and Shedd Aquarium will be closed on Sunday, May 20, opening day of the summit.
Streets around the museum campus, Willis Tower and the Cultural Center will also be closed during summit weekend, apparently for special events involving the world dignitaries.
Boat traffic will also be restricted during the summit on the Chicago River and on Lake Michigan in and around Burnham Harbor.
Although commuter rail lines that operate beneath McCormick Place will remain open during the summit, the McCormick Place stop will be closed on Sunday May 20 and Monday May 21.
“Other stations may be closed as needed,” the Secret Service said.
“Passengers should plan for delays as trains approach and pass through the McCormick Place stop due to necessary security measures.”
Changes to bus routes operating within the crazy quilt of areas restricted to vehicles and pedestrians “will be necessary,” the Secret Service said. Commuters were advised to check the CTA website for specific route changes.
The city will send text messages or voice mail alerts “related to extreme weather alerts, traffic disruptions, health alerts and major incidents.” To sign up, go to http://www.notifychicago.org.