With temporary fix, north Lake Shore Drive open again

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

(Published Feb. 12, 2019)

According to the City of Chicago, the northbound lanes of traffic are now open on Lake Shore Drive.

The lanes were closed mid-day Monday after Chicago Department of Transportation employees noticed two cracked girders on Lake Shore Drive and another cracked girder on a ramp from Wacker to south Lake Shore Drive. The closure lasted just over a day. Since the problem was discovered, CDOT workers worked nonstop to repair the street.

Susan Hofer, a CDOT spokesperson, said the work went well over the 24-hour period.

“We made good progress through the night,” she said in an email Tuesday. “We re-opened The Wacker to southbound Lake Shore Drive ramp last night.”

At an on-site press conference with CDOT Commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld, she explained the cracked beams were bolstered with four shoring towers.

“This will allow us to make repairs,” she explained. “We expect permanent repairs will be done over the next several weeks.”

The shoring towers can withstand a total of 300,000 pounds of pressure each.

The total cost of the temporary and permanent fix isn’t yet known.

Hofer added that CDOT is still not sure what exactly led to the cracks, though the polar vortex might have been a factor.

“We think the extreme temp variations might be part of the problem,” she said. “We’re still working on determining the causes. 

CDOT engineers are continuing to inspect other girders throughout the road system for cracks.

Northbound Lake Shore Drive is open

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

According to the City of Chicago, the northbound lanes of traffic are now open on Lake Shore Drive.

The lanes were closed mid-day Monday after Chicago Department of Transportation employees noticed two broken beams on Lake Shore Drive. The closure lasted just over a day.

Since the problem was discovered, CDOT workers worked nonstop to repair the street.

Susan Hofer, a CDOT spokesperson, said the work went well over the 24-hour period.

“We made good progress through the night,” she said in an email Tuesday. “We re-opened The Wacker to southbound Lake Shore Drive ramp last night.”

Hofer added that CDOT is still not sure what exactly led to the cracks, though the polar vortex might have been a factor.

“We think the extreme temp variations might be part of the problem,” she said. “We’re still working on determining the causes. 

CDOT says Lake Shore could be fixed by Tuesday evening rush hour

By Jesse Wright Staff Reporter

Some ramps to Lake Shore Drive are open Tuesday after a Chicago Department of Transportation employees noticed two broken beams on Lake Shore Drive Monday morning.

However, by noon on Tuesday, traffic remained congested as northbound Lake Shore Drive remained closed. Since the problem was discovered just prior to noon, CDOT workers have been working nonstop to repair the street and a CDOT spokesperson said she’s hopeful repairs could open Lake Shore Drive by evening rush hour.

Susan Hofer, a CDOT spokesperson, said the work is going well.

“We made good progress through the night,” she said in an email. “We re-opened The Wacker to southbound Lake Shore Drive ramp last night. The shoring towers under northbound Lake Shore Drive are in place and we are starting to jack them up around (Tuesday morning). The goal is to re-open before the evening rush. However once the road is raised up, it will take additional time to salt and clear ice off the roadway. Safety is the top priority.”

Hofer said updates will continue throughout the day.  


Ida B. Wells honored with downtown street name

Civil rights activist Ida B. Wells was honored Monday morning when city and state leaders officially unveiled new street signs for Ida B. Wells Drive.

The 1.2-mile downtown street was formerly known as Congress Parkway and aldermen Sophia King (Fourth Ward) and Brendan Reilly (42nd Ward) co-sponsored and passed the ordinance to rename the street in July 2018. This is the first downtown street named after an African American woman.

“She was an original boss,” King said. “She spoke truth to power and … changed the landscape of Chicago and the world.”

Wells was born into slavery in 1862 in Mississippi, but it was her pioneering work as a Memphis publisher and journalist where she first gained widespread attention. In 1891 Wells, who was also a public school teacher, began reporting on unequal conditions in black schools. Those articles got her fired from her teaching job.

A year later, in 1892, she began work on a series of articles on lynching that showed the practice, far from being a legitimate form of law enforcement, was a means of terrorizing African Americans to keep them powerless and scared. Her stories used data analysis and extensive investigative techniques that were new in journalism.

The stories so upset white Memphians, a mob burned her offices, destroyed her printing press and forced her to flee the South, though the series got national distribution in black papers. After a speaking tour in Europe, she settled in Chicago where she continued to civil rights work for African Americans and for women’s issues until her death in 1931.

“I believe this honor is long overdue,” said Reilly. “I believe it is wrong that until this day no street in downtown Chicago has ever been named for an African American woman. It’s wrong. But I can’t think of a better or more deserving individual than Ida B. Wells to right that wrong today.”

The mayor and Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton also praised Wells’ legacy and Michelle Duster, a great-granddaughter of Wells, said she hopes the street is an inspiration.

“Ida B. Wells Drive will remind everyone, no matter where they start in life, that it is possible to make their voice heard,” Duster said.

Chaz Ebert, the keynote speaker for the event, said public memorials to people of color are important, especially for children of color.

“As a little girl I used to wonder, did we really matter? As a little girl I had never seen a black fireman or a black nun,” she said. “And I would wonder, did we matter?

“Buckminster Fuller, when he used to greet people who said ‘hello’ to him, he would say, ‘I see you is see you.’ Because we all have a universal need to be seen, to be heard, to be loved and to know that we matter and that the footprint we leave on this earth will be observed by someone. And that’s what’s happening this morning.”

North Lake Shore Drive closed for ’emergency’

Just before noon on Monday, the Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communication announced northbound lanes on Lake Shore Drive are closed to Grand Avenue because of a “structural emergency.”

According to the Chicago Department of Transportation, a beam is cracked at an on-ramp and the beam was not repaired in time for Tuesday’s morning traffic

It’s not clear when the beam cracked.

This story will be updated as new details emerge.

Lakefront Trail separation project completed

New Eastside News News BriefsLakefront Trail completed

After three years of work, the Chicago Park District announced in December that the Lakefront Trail renovation project is complete.

For years pedestrians and cyclists complained of confusion, accidents and general crowds along the trail. In 2016, spurred by a $12 million gift from Ken Griffin, Illinois’ richest man according to Forbes, the city began widening the trail and separating it by direction and by use between bicyclists and pedestrians. The trail extends from Ardmore Avenue in the north to 71st Street in the south. The city has not yet completed all landscaping improvements along the trail. While the trail is completed, parts may be closed due to winter weather advisories. Check chicagoparkdistrict.com to see the status of the trail

400 E. Randolph Building increases security

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

After the theft of a classic car in November from the residential building at 400 East Randolph, residents at the January CAPS meeting said that the building’s management has increased its security presence in the garage.

At the meeting, residents of the building and the neighborhood expressed concern to police that not enough is being done to prevent car thefts. The police confirmed that the suspect in the November theft is a repeat offender.

Sergeant Anthony Dombrowski said that since residential garages are private property, it is incumbent on the building owner to take precautions.

Management of 400 E. Randolph did not return calls for comment.

Slalom moves to Aon Center, expands to two floors

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

In January, Slalom, a national business services and technology consulting agency, announced their move from the Prudential Plaza to the Aon Center.

The Seattle-based company that consults in a wide variety of departments, including organizational effectiveness and data analytics, now occupies 65,000 square feet over floors 37 and 38 of the Center. This doubles their previous office space. However, in the last 14 years since the company set up shop in Chicago, steady growth demanded a larger space, general manager Justin Odenbach said in a press release.

“With more than 700 employees now—and plans to grow beyond 1,000 in the next three years—we simply outgrew our previous space,” Odenbach said. “Because we have a local business model, our people live and work in the Chicago area, so staying in the city was key. We were thrilled to find a space that met our criteria for location, growth, flexible use, and culture fit right here in the neighborhood we know and love.”

GEMS holds topping out ceremony for last beam in Upper Builing


By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

The topping out ceremony is an old ritual for new buildings. The ceremony celebrates when the final beam is laid in place and is a milestone for any project. On Nov. 30, the New Eastside’s GEMS World Academy got to hold their own topping out ceremony for their new building.

With the new building, dubbed the Upper School, the private academy can expand class sizes and will serve grades six through 12. The building is located at 355 E. Wacker Drive, behind the main building at 350 East South Water St. and the Upper School means more than just extra space. Students will get a full-sized gym, music practice rooms, new lockers and classrooms dedicated to design courses.

This represents the largest expansion to date for the five-year-old campus. Thomas M. Cangiano, head of the school since July of 2018, said he understands what a big deal the topping out ceremony is for the students and faculty. “All the work is going to be in the interior from now on,” he said. “When the kids left the school last spring (in 2018), they left a hole in the ground. So to see this frame come up so quickly and to see there were already a few floors built, I think it gives the kids a sense of how quickly the building can go up.”

Cangiano said he hopes the Upper Building will wow the neighbors as well. Much of the first floor will feature practice studios for dance and other activities and all the action will be visible to pedestrians through large plate glass windows.

The building will be ready for move in by the fall 2019 semester.

As Chicagoans will be able to look in, Cangiano wants the students to look out, beyond the school and into the heart of the city. The school has a sizeable international student population, but Cangiano has long maintained that the school must prepare international citizens to also be citizens of Chicago. “You can’t really be a true international citizen unless you’re a good local citizen,” he said. “You have to understand the context in which you live and go to school and play and the economics, economic development, transportation, infrastructure and mundane things like revenue and expenses.”

Just in time for Christmas, dino SUE gets a new home

Staff reports

 

SUE, the iconic T. rex who held the coveted spot on the Field Museum’s main floor until February, will finally be on display in a new home this holiday season.

The skeleton had been removed from Stanley Field Hall tomake room for the museum’s new Titanosaur cast, Maximo. But, on Dec. 21, SUE’s new suite will open, debuting a brand new habitat to museum visitors.

The biggest and most complete T. rex skeleton in the world, the skeleton that had been on display had, nevertheless, grown out of date given new scientific understanding of T. rex anatomy. So, since coming down, scientists and museum workers have been updating SUE’s skeleton to match the latest science.

One of those updates will be the addition of a set of bones across SUE’s abdomen called gastralia that helped the T. rex breathe, according to Pete Makovicky, the museum’s curator of dinosaurs.

SUE will now live in the Griffin Halls of Evolving Planet in a 5,100 square foot suite filled with interactive displays that mimic the environment an actual T. rex would have lived in.

Among those displays will be “cutting-edge animations showing how SUE would have interacted with other dinosaurs and what the landscape would have looked like,” said Jaap Hoogstraten, Director of Exhibitions, in a press release.

The move has been in the works for quite some time, said Field Museum president Richard Lariviere, in a press release.

“We’re excited to finally complete our decades-long plan to put SUE in a proper scientific context alongside our other dinosaurs and offer an experience that really shows off why SUE is widely considered the greatest dinosaur fossil in the world,” said Lariviere in a press release.

SUE’s new environment “will give visitors a glimpse of the world SUE lived in,” said Hoogstraten in a press release. The new display will also explain how SUE made it to Chicago.

“People will also get to learn about SUE’s discovery and the things scientists have learned about SUE over the last few decades—there’ll be lots of new information and experiences that we weren’t able to get across with the old display,” said Hoogstraten, in a press release.

“This is the biggest, scariest, and most impressive SUE’s ever looked,” said Lariviere, in a press release.

 

Reilly nixes Spire for now over community concerns

Staff reports

After months of speculation, Chicago Alderman Brendan Reilly rejected the 400 N. Lake Shore Drive development, also known as the Spire Site.

In late October, Reilly announced that he would reject the proposal after the developers failed to consider any community concerns. This is a setback for a development that has been in the works for over a decade, but it does not mean the project is dead.

“As you know, I joined with SOAR to host a community meeting on May 15 to review the developer’s proposal,” Reilly wrote in an email to constituents. “The meeting was very well attended and we received a tremendous amount of community feedback. My staff catalogued all of the community input from that meeting and we created a list of priority issues that needed to be addressed during my negotiation process with the developer.”

Reilly said he sent the developer a “detailed memo” in August enumerating community concerns, and that their reply did not address any of those issues.

 

“Unfortunately, several weeks later, Related Midwest provided me with a response that did not adequately address any of the major concerns about their proposal,” he wrote.

Reilly said the community had concerns about the hotel use, the tall podium base of the buildings, traffic concerns and security concerns along the Riverwalk and at DuSable Park.

However, the alderman said the project is not dead because Related Midwest may still address the issues at some point in the future, allowing development to move forward.

“In the event the developer chooses to address the legitimate concerns regarding their proposal, my office will be sure to provide all impacted neighbors with an update,” he said.

Reilly then listed exactly what must be addressed.

  • Access to the site via East North Water Street must be significantly restricted
  • Proposed hotel use should be eliminated
  • Podium height and bulk must be reduced
  • Make greater use of the Lake Shore Drive access ramp system and below grade parking system to manage deliveries, services vehicles and pick-up/drop-offs.
  • Developer must assemble a security plan for the Riverwalk and DuSable Park
  • Elimination of the proposed Ogden Slip Public Esplanade

 

Disability Summit focuses on benefits from disabled workers

Ben Lumicao, a senior attorney with Allstate, talks with Jill Houghton at the Fourth Annual Disability Inclusion Opportunity Summit.

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

 

Business leaders from across the city met in October for the fourth annual Disability Inclusion Opportunity Summit, a daylong meeting of breakout panels and discussions on how to better include disabled workers into the workplace.

The Chicagoland Business Leadership Network and the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce presented the summit, bringing together hiring professionals to discuss things like mental health in the workplace, online accessibility and best practices for disability recruitment.

Rob Hitchcock, the president of government and consumer solutions for the Health Care Service Corporation welcomed attendees and said there are ample opportunities for disabled workers.

“We’re struggling to fill open positions,” Hitchcock said. “We view this as a wonderful opportunity to recruit and get talent into our organizations, and I know many of you feel the same way.”

The summit did more than focus on employers and their needs. At one point, the conversation turned to the disabled employees themselves.

“We’re going to talk about the power of owning your identity and the power of the beauty that exists within us.” said Jill Houghton, president and CEO of Disability: IN. “One in five of us have a disability. And it’s cool.”

Houghton said disabilities have workarounds and disabled people don’t need to be labeled as differently abled or special because there is nothing wrong with being disabled.

Suhail Tariq, one of the panelists, echoed this sentiment with his own experiences at work. He said he can compete with coworkers who are not disabled because he is willing to work hard.

“I am no different than any of you guys,” Tariq said. “We’re no different than anyone else. It’s just hard work. I like my mantra to my executive committee, which is, ‘You may through a certain way get to the end goal, but I’ll get to the end goal too, the way I am comfortable doing it, and if I need any help because of my disability, then I will raise my hand.’”

Panelist Ben Lumicao, an attorney for Allstate, said open dialog about abilities is welcome because the days of ignoring a disability are over—and that’s a good thing.

Another panelist, Shannon Maher, a recruiting programs specialist with Exelon, said the challenge is two-sided, as disabled workers need to own their disability and recognize it, just as much as employers do.

“We bring many talents to the table because of our disabilities,” she said.

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