Drivers Say Security Guards Snarling Traffic At North Side Intersection

CHICAGO (CBS) — They have badges and uniforms, but no authority to direct traffic. Still, that’s not stopping private security guards from doing just that on a busy public street.

CBS 2’s Mai Martinez caught up with them and the frustrated drivers who want them gone.

The security guards work for Lycée Français de Chicago – the French International School of Chicago.

They’ve been directing traffic during the morning rush hour at Bittersweet Place and Marine Drive as drivers try to squeeze onto Lake Shore Drive at Irving Park Road.

“It’s a nightmare. Every morning it’s packed all the way back,” said Richard Eppers, one of dozens of drivers waiting at in line at the intersection of Bittersweet and Marine on Tuesday.

“It’s backed up all the way, it’s just ridiculous,” Eppers said as horns blared around him.

Many drivers blame the backups on the security guards at Lycée Français. The guards routinely stop cars on Marine Drive to allow drivers dropping students off at the school to get into traffic hassle-free, sometimes causing drivers with the right away to miss the green light.

“They can’t control the traffic. They really can’t,” said Barbara Fairchild, who has lived in the neighborhood for more than two decades. She said the security guards make the traffic situation around the school worse.

The school’s head of security said they asked the city for help, in the form of a traffic aide or police officer to direct traffic. But the school didn’t get one, so they asked their private security guards to step in, even though they have no authority.

As a CBS 2 camera rolled, car after car was allowed out of the school driveway by a security guard wielding a stop sign to hold oncoming traffic back, even though the oncoming traffic had the right of way.

At times, six or seven vehicles in a row poured out of the school as other drivers blew their horns and shouted at the security guards.

Drivers said it’s frustrating to spend 10 to 15 minutes at a stop sign when it’s a four way stop, and they have the right away.

”They shouldn’t be doing that, and something needs to be done about it,” said Eppers.

A school official said they got permission from the Town Hall police district to have private security direct traffic. But, according to Chicago Police, the commander at that district says that is not true and that she will look into the issue.

According to the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications, only OEMC or Chicago Police Department personnel can direct traffic on city streets. There are, however, exceptions for construction zones and work sites.

More from Mai Martinez
  • Michael Payne

    Simple solution – Run them down.

  • Roberta Waker

    Or, call the Chicagp PD to arrest them for obstructing traffic. Running them down would make you very late by the time you filled out a police report, got ticketed for running down a pedestrian and allowed to leave the scene and then, of course, your insurance rates would skyrocket becuse of the lawsuit filed against you. Cheaper and better to call the CPD.

  • Roberta Waker

    Sorry for the typos – should be “Chicago” and “because” of the lawsuit.

  • Dan

    Right of way. Right of way. Right of way.

  • Jason

    If the drivers on Marine would actually let the cars out of the school parking lot there would not be a need for any traffic management. Unfortunately, those drivers do not feel the need to alternate and show common courtesy – something even the students of those schools (there are other schools in that building besides Lycée Français) most likely have a better grasp.

    When the cars are not let out of the parking lot onto Marine then the other cars dropping off children can not move through the parking lot. Once those cars are held up that backs up traffic on Bittersweet which can cause delays on Clarendon. Do you see the domino effect this has?

    In the spirit of full disclosure, I have a daughter that attends Park View Montessori (one of the other schools in that building). Without traffic management it is unlikely that I will be able to drop her off anymore since we will not be able to get back onto Marine.

  • Jennifer

    I have to say I am very disappointed in the onesided “investigation” of your report. You falled to mentioned the number of highrise apartment buildings in the area, the back up of cars trying to get on to sourh bound LSD, the other school on Marine Drive or the traffic congestion caused by the CTA buses at Irving Park/Claredon Ave (at times there are 3 buses following each other blocking intersections). This area has always been known as a very congesteed area prior to the Lycee Francais was established there. If you had interviewed long time residents they would have told you that.
    And finally I found it very unprofessional of the comments made by the achors supporting a stereotype that French people dismiss rules/laws that they are to above them. Makes me wonder what is said about other groups when the cameras are not rolling. They cannot be more wrong in their comments.

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