Surviving NATO: A Guide for Oak Park
Gotta get downtown this weekend? Check with Patch before you go.
For the first time the North Atlantic Treaty Organization will be holding a summit in an American city other than Washington, D.C. In addition to global leaders, over 2,000 journalists and countless demonstrators and activists are expected to inundate the Chicago region.
What does that mean for our area?
For starters, some institutions have already anticipated trouble. Leaders at Oak Park-River Forest High School moved the student prom ahead to April 28, about three weeks before the event's original May 19 scheduling at the downtown Chicago Hyatt.
Playing it way safe, organizers with the annual What's Blooming on Harrison Street art festival moved the street fair, originally scheduled for this weekend, to Memorial Day weekend.
Police in Oak Park and River Forest say they're not expecting any spillover trouble here from expected protestors, and the departments aren't sending any officers to assist Chicago's police force. But Oak Park spokesman David Powers said "senior officers in the department have been in frequent contact with the organizations directly involved in managing security for the summit and have open lines of communications should something unexpected develop that might affect Oak Park."
In River Forest, officers "have received advanced training with a number of non-lethal weapons like pepper spray, and guns with beanbag ammunition" and the department joined Northern Illinois Police Alarm System (NIPAS), a joint law enforcement effort, according to Oak Leaves.
Workers in the Loop, meanwhile, are expecting a hassle, and many companies are urging employees to telecommute, according to the Chicago Tribune. If you don't have the luxury of working from home on Friday or Monday, or if you're planning to head into the downtown area, here's a look at a few things you need to know in order to get around efficiently.
Oh, and if for some reason you plan on flying your non-commercial plane through the NATO no-fly zone, just don't do it. Authorities say anyone violating the restriction, which CBS 2 reports will extend from Lake County, Ind. to Lake County in Illinois, might be shot down. For real.
Twenty-six CTA bus routes will be altered. Here's the rundown — with the exception of Roosevelt #12 bus, there shouldn't be changes for Oak Park commuters using CTA bus service.
CTA officials say El train service should operate as normal.
At this time, Metra is not planning to close any of its system-wide rail lines during the week of May 13 through May 21. The Union Pacific West line is expected to operate on its regular schedule, but Metra is advising riders to anticipate delays.
Commuters can also sign up to receive Metra email alerts should delays or changes occur. Just in case, you may want to follow Metra and specific updates for the Union Pacific West line on Twitter.
Portions of I-55 (Stevenson Expressway) and Lake Shore Drive will be shut down during the summit. Other roads and interstate highways may also experience intermittent traffic delays during the week of May 13 through May 21.
Beginning Saturday, May 19, until Monday, May 21, expect intermittent traffic delays and temporary road and interstate closures and throughout downtown Chicago for motorcades traveling to and from McCormick Place and other event sites.
If you need to use the regional expressway system to get to work, school or other cultural events, affected routes include:
- I-90/94 East and West between downtown Chicago and I-55;
- Roosevelt Road, 18th Street, and Canal Port Avenue access from I-94 West (Dan Ryan Expressway);
- Ohio Street from I-90/94 to Fairbanks Court/Columbus Drive;
- Ontario Street from Fairbanks Court/Columbus Drive;
- I-90 East and West (Kennedy Expressway) between O’Hare International Airport and downtown Chicago.
Other road closures and pedestrian restrictions will be implemented beginning midnight Saturday, May 19 (Friday midnight into Saturday). Affected roadways below will re-open for evening rush hour on Monday, May 21:
- Northbound and southbound Lake Shore Drive between E. Balbo Avenue and E 39th Street;
- Northbound and southbound I-55 between I-90/94 to Lake Shore Drive.
If you were planning to visit the Art Institute, Adler Planetarium and Shedd Aquarium—all three will be closed the weekend of May 19-21 for the NATO Summit. The Field Museum will remain open.