Blizzard Report Outlines Ways To Avoid Another Shutdown Of Lake Shore Drive

CHICAGO (CBS) — A city report unveiled Monday outlines ways emergency officials can avoid another blizzard-related shutdown of Lake Shore Drive, but no one was singled out for criticism for the Feb. 1 event that stranded hundreds of motorists.

“I think the folks that work for the city of Chicago did a tremendous job working around the clock, with no sleep trying to make sure that streets were open and trying to correct what was happening with Lake Shore Drive,” Jose Santiago, former director of the Office of Emergency Management and Communications, told reporters.

The 12-page report, among many strategies, recommends using radio stations to let stranded drivers know what’s happening. CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine previously reported that authorities couldn’t really see what was happening when an accident caused the blockage of Lake Shore Drive in white-out conditions.

Officials confirmed today that four more cameras have been installed since the blizzard.

As Levine reported, the report suggests making median cuts or other vehicle outlets to provide escape routes in the event of emergencies.

There are also plans to divert articulated buses like the one that crashed and caused the backup, when conditions are dangerous.

But the report seemed to say none of this could have been anticipated and that no one was to blame.

Asked if anyone should be “taken to the woodshed” for the complications on Lake Shore Drive, new OEMC Director Gary Schenkel replied, “Absolutely not.”

No motorists were injured as they waited hours to be taken off the drive, and Chicago generally received high marks for the way it kept other major arteries open during the 20-inch snowfall.

After the Lake Shore Drive fiasco, then-Mayor Richard M. Daley went underground and let his department heads take the heat for the national embarrassment.

Critics contended that, as long as the Drive remained closed and riddled with abandoned vehicles, Daley was not about to face the music.

Daley reportedly was so angry about the Lake Shore Drive fiasco he needed a day to cool off.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780 Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports

When he finally resurfaced, he defended his decision to lay low, saying he had confidence in his team of managers and, “This is not the Daley show.”

Asked to assess the city’s overall storm performance, Daley said, “Overall, done well. That [Lake Shore Drive] area did not do well.”

Contributing: Sun-Times Media Wire.

  • James Reyes

    Emergency turnarounds and exits should have been installed after 9/11 on all limited access highways.

  • Roberta Waker

    Why do we need such huge medians on our roads? What purpose do they serve other than eliminating another lane and costing megabucks to install? I agree that they could be used in emergencies as emergency turnarounds or something.

  • Citizen for a Livable Chicago

    I think the City did a great job. When it snows 20 plus inches with wind conditions creating 6 foot drifts there’s not much you can do, except be patient. For the Citizens that keep informed of news and weather, they were prepared. For thoses that were disconnected from the numerous warning that were being broadcast for at least 48 hours prior and were not prepared, they got stuck. It’s good the City is looking at a better way to handle these storms, but in the end when it snows 20 plus inches, there is not much anyone can do except being a good boy scout or girl scout and being prepared.

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