Falling ice closes downtown streets

March 8, 2011 8:14:14 PM PST
Streets were closed and traffic was rerouted Tuesday due to falling ice in downtown Chicago.

In the Loop, the evening rush became a crawl after the city closed Wacker Drive between Adams and Jackson in response to ice falling from the Willis Tower.

No one was injured, but the closures caused frustration for some.

"It's a little inconvenient when I park right down the street, and I already paid $20 to park, and now I've got to walk two extra blocks to get there," said Shawntay Willis.

Pedestrian and vehicle traffic was also temporarily closed Tuesday near the John Hancock building on East Delaware Place between Wabash and Michigan.

Earlier, several large chunks of ice were seen falling from the Hancock, creating a hazardous situation in one of the busiest parts of the city.

The ice had many drivers taking evasive action and pedestrians casting a wary eye on the sky.

"It's really dangerous because if you are under though, you get hit by it, you will get seriously injured. It's really scary," said Zoe Evans, pedestrian.

"I am just cautious. I can never decide whether to walk away from the building or close to the building," said Fran Goldstein, pedestrian.

Falling ice is a common sight as temperatures rise. But at a 28-story condo building on the Near North Side, measures have been taken to protect pedestrians and the building itself.

"We have two complete walls of windows. We have two solid curtain walls, so it's also a preventative maintenance program in order to protect our own property," said Patricia Salinski, property manager, The Montgomery.

All around the building's rooftop heating coils underneath a metal ledge prevent ice buildup and the staff makes twice-a-day checks by hand. While the system has worked for the building, it's not a one-size-fits-all solution.

"Every property has a different footprint. They have different wind, different directions that the wind is coming from," said Salinksi.

There could be more ice dangers ahead with the weather forecast this week calling for rain followed by freezing temperatures.

Just last week, two people were injured by falling ice.