More than half of the crashes in which vehicles were stuck in Chicago Transit Authority structures citywide in the past year occurred on the same stretch of L Street on the city’s West Side, an area that community members have labeled “the most dangerous street in Chicago” as they call for change.
For years, Roger Romanelli of the Fulton Markets Association has documented trucks getting stuck and ripped apart under the section of Green Road that runs through Lake Street.
“You have here on Lake Street, a three-mile stretch, which is the most dangerous street in Chicago,” Romanelli said. And it’s probably the most dangerous road in Illinois.
CTA records show a truck, bus or other vehicle has been trapped in a transit structure 32 times in the city since early 2020. Fifteen of those incidents – nearly half – happened on the Green Line along Lake Street, according to the CTA. In the past year alone, that percentage has been even higher — 11 of the city’s 18 crashes have occurred along that stretch.
The problem, Romanelli says, isn’t that it’s posted for the L itself. The fact is that when the truck turns, the clearance is actually lower than what’s on the sign, because they don’t take into account the rack of the truck. The structure supports the train tracks from below.
“That truck would get caught in the structure and ripped apart,” said Romanelli.
Annette Britton grew up on the city’s West Side and says she’s seen more truck crashes than she can count.
“I’ve seen trucks try to steer these corners and cut off the front end of their trailer,” Britton said.
Romanelli also argues that the Green Line structure itself is in dire need of an update, paying particular attention to the train’s support columns that rise from the center of the street.
“What you see here was built in 1896 — eight years before cars or trucks ran in Chicago,” he said.
A CTA spokesman said that the structure was built the way it was in that location, with columns across the street, as a cost-saving measure in the 1890s. The CTA said the structure was restored. restored and repaired since then, marking a major renovation in the 1990s and noting that it is now in “good structural condition”.
Renovating an L structure would cost hundreds of millions of dollars, and the CTA said other parts of the transit system were prioritized in any future infrastructure improvement plans.
Romanelli said the obstacles are affecting the trucks themselves more – they’re hindering deliveries, which is negatively impacting commerce on the city’s West Side.
“They won’t let their trucks come and deliver,” he said. “That reduces the number of businesses and jobs on the West Side.”
Romanelli and others say the city needs to put up signs explaining the dangers of turning east or west under the letter L due to ground clearance changes.
“City Hall and the mayor need to put up signs immediately,” Romanelli said. “They need to warn trucks, warn big trucks that they can’t move on Lake Street.”
The CTA refers to the Chicago Department of Transportation for signage information.
A CDOT spokesman said the city improved clearance on Lake Street in 2018 by lowering the roadway during reconstruction. However, the agency did not respond to multiple requests for comment on signs indicating the distance between trucks turning east and west.
https://www.nbcchicago.com/investigations/why-do-trucks-keep-getting-stuck-on-the-same-stretch-of-the-l/2600550/ Why does the truck keep getting stuck on the same segment of the L? – NBC Chicago