CHICAGO (CBS)– During the midterm election, over 13,000 residents voted to keep the Wilson Ramp, but that vote does not mean the ramp will get to stay.
Weiss Memorial Hospital sits less than a football field away from Lake Shore Drive. The fastest way to get there is to take the Wilson Avenue ramp.
“Any sort of reconfiguration of Wilson would require an emergency vehicle to go through additional traffic lights before arriving at Weiss Hospital,” North Lake Shore Drive Study taskforce member Marianne Lalonde said.
That is why Uptown resident, Marianne Lalonde says she was shocked to learn that CDOT and IDOT’s plan to modernize North Lake Shore Drive involved a proposal to remove the ramp altogether.
The Wilson ramp was singled out because it is closer to its neighboring ramps Lawrence and Montrose than is considered “best practice” in highway construction.
Critics argue, Weiss is a Primary Stroke Center, caring for patients in circumstances where every minute counts.
“It’s definitely endangering patient lives,” Lalonde said.
More than 94 percent of the 14,000 voters in Ward 46, who turned out for the midterm elections, agreed with Lalonde and voted yes on an advisory referendum.
“Everbody’s Coffee” shop owner, Rich Trouche was one of the residents who voted yes. He worries that losing the ramp will also mean losing the commuters who regularly stop in for their morning java.
“It would dynamically change our business, not for the better,” Trouche said.
CDOT and IDOT said it’s not a done deal.
They say they appreciate the input from residents, but encourage them to attend yet-to-be-scheduled community meetings early next year to discuss potential alternatives.
Many residents had hoped the vote would have been enough.
“I think if voters are saying this doesn’t make sense for the community it doesn’t make sense for the ward it should be listened to,” Trouche said.
CDOT and IDOT have stressed that no final decisions about ramp configurations have been made.
Design approvals are currently slated for some time in 2019 and 2020.