Mexican Independence Day Chicago: Street closures possible if celebrations get out of hand downtown

Eric Horng Image
Friday, September 15, 2023
Mexican Independence Day Chicago street closures possible if celebrations get out of hand
Chicago Mexican Independence Day celebrations are expected to take over city streets this weekend, and rolling street closures are possible.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Mexican Independence Day regularly draws thousands of revelers into the streets of Chicago, but city officials said they are prepared to limit access to downtown if needed to avoid chaotic gridlock.

In recent years the downtown gridlock has become as regularly a part of the celebrations as dancing, food and music. The party goes on for hours with police unable to direct traffic.

Last year a caravan of revelers brought downtown to a standstill, shooting off fireworks and line dancing in the street. Police said the two night party was marred by gunfire, and many couldn't get home, get to work or get help.

"We actually had a resident who'd gone into labor during the festivities, and she had a substantial amount of difficulty getting to Northwestern," said James Wales of South Loop Neighbors.

RELATED | Chicago prepares for Mexican Independence Day celebrations with eye on safety, avoiding gridlock

South Loop Neighbors held a meeting with Chicago police two weeks ago about plans to limit traffic if celebrations got out of hand.

"Yesterday they distributed the twelve different access points that, if that plan goes into effect, there'll be twelve points where people will be able to come in and out if they live here," Wales said.

The Office of Emergency Management and Communications said for now there are no planned street closures, but as in the past for busy weekends, equipment will be in place if closures are needed.

Illinois State Police and Chicago police are prepared to close downtown expressway entrances and restrict access to the area bordered by Division Street, DuSable Lake Shore Drive, 18th Street and Halsted.

There will be multiple access points on those streets for residents, workers and others to enter the central business district.

Officials said the plan does not include raising bridges, which in the past has been controversial.

According to a notice by 42nd ward alderman Brendan Reilley, if street closures are enacted, the following access points to downtown will remain open to residents and employees:

-North Halsted and West Division

-North Halsted and West Chicago

-North Halsted and West Washington

-North Halsted and West Madison

-South Halsted and South Jackson

-West Roosevelt and South Union

-18th Street and South State

-18th Street and South Michigan

-18th Street and South Indiana

-West Division and North LaSalle

Chicago police will not require residents to produce a driver's license or access pass at the above checkpoints. the notice said.

The city also released a statement saying in part, "In the event of increased traffic activity within the central business district and to maintain traffic flow, residents may experience rolling closures."

"Don't forget that any disturbances in the downtown area are going to be sanctioned by the authorities," said Reyna Torres Mendivil, Consul General of Mexico in Chicago.

City officials shared a video, asking people to celebrate responsibly, and allow emergency vehicles to come through their celebrations if they have their lights and sirens activated, indicating they are on an emergency response call.