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Wacker Drive Rehab Creates Commuter Confusion

Wacker Drive Reconstruction

Parts of Wacker Drive will be closed for the next year. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – A facelift for Wacker Drive has been leaving frown lines on many commuters, especially pedestrians. With the drive now closed between Lake and Madison, thousands are stepping into detours and unfamiliar territory.

CBS 2′s Vince Gerasole has a look at how they are coping.

At the height of rush hour, downtown pedestrians have gotten used to taking well-timed steps to make it their trains and buses to get home. Lately, the rehab of Wacker Drive has been tripping them up.

“The traffic is backed up,” a woman who identified herself only as April said. “The people is angry the taxis are running over us.”

The dazed looks of puzzled pedestrians display how construction detours have become a frustrating sign of the times.

One commuter said he doesn’t know which way to go since the Wacker Drive project started. “And sometimes I have nearly missed my train because of it.”

Nadia Pupa of Winnetka said it’s been “very confusing.”

“It’s just crazy, it’s crazy,” she said. “I don’t even know what bus I am trying to get on right now.”

With Wacker Drive construction and closures now in full swing, some 40,000 pedestrians from Oglilvie Transportaiton Center alone have been navigating a maze of street closures and 13 detoured bus routes to get to work.

“We don’t know if the river is closed or not,” one man said. “Before you could walk, now you can’t.”

It’s not always easy to know what’s going on with the detours.

“Last week we could walk across and I am not sure this week if we can,” one woman said.

To help weather the storm, dozens of city Traffic Management Authority workers have been dispatched to keep things flowing.

“I think they are trying to do what they can, but they tend to shout at people,” John Husmann of Mount Prospect said.

Commuters are also doing a lot more reading of signs like road closed, detour, local access, bus stop change – and that’s just one corner.

Officials have recommended following those signs to get to work on time.

The overwhelming response from commuters on Tuesday was the headaches are worth it in order to get Wacker Drive rebuilt. They just might need a GPS to find their way around in the meantime.