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What's Driving You Crazy? Loop gridlock

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Downtown traffic jams are a problem that have been growing for decades. (WLS)

What's driving you crazy? Many of people reached out to ABC7 Eyewitness News Traffic Anchor Roz Varon to get answers.

Many people expressed frustration about dedicated bike lanes and bus lanes taking away traffic lanes, making it challenging - if not impossible - to drive through the Loop in a decent amount of time. They wanted to know what the city was doing about it.

Downtown traffic jams are a problem that have been growing for decades.

City leaders are well aware of it, and have been addressing it through creative designs, like the Loop Link and protected bike lanes that separate traffic from buses, bicyclists and pedestrians.

"Part of our improvements on Loop Link included more protected turn arrows for motorists so we could minimize conflicts between pedestrians and turning vehicles," Chicago Department of Transportation Commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld said. "Previously you had buses weaving in and out of traffic, as well as bicyclists weaving in and out of traffic, which causes conflicts and causes congestion and concern for drivers."

One of the biggest problems with Loop congestion is when drivers pull into an intersection, traffic is not moving, the light changes and they're stuck there creating gridlock. Perhaps if there were more traffic aids at key intersections, situations like this wouldn't happen.

"The priority is given to construction projects and special events, so you're seeing most of those aids out there are major reroute impacted by construction or special events," Scheinfeld said.

In fact, traffic aids stopped working at Loop intersections at rush hour several years ago.

According to CDOT, 60 percent of people commuting downtown are taking public transportation. Transportation authorities would like those numbers to go up.

Some people have to drive. Officials said they'll get used to the new design and hopefully find alternates to Loop Link streets like Washington and Madison.

Traffic should ease up a bit more when the entire Loop Link is finished, by the end of this year.

The new Wabash/Washington station is scheduled to open by summer. That will help ease congestion too.

CDOT officials said even though it may not feel like it, the new designs are working as bus traffic and reliability has gotten better. But they admit there is room for improvement.

Related Topics:
trafficconstructiontrafficloop linkChicagoLoop
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