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.

Road Closures

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.

Museum Campus

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.

Source: Chicago Police Department, Federal Aviation Administration, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Secret Service.

sue May 15, 2012 at 02:10 PM
Help!!!! Have a flight from Midway at 8:10 am Saturday (on SW). Need information about what's happening in terms of routes to Midway from Oak Park and time required to check baggage and get through security.
Lisa May 15, 2012 at 02:55 PM
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??? Some of us in the Arts District were told the Village of Oak Park dictated that no events could happen in Oak Park this weekend. We're still trying to find out why 'Art in the Park' has been allowed to go on as scheduled, but not the Oak Park Arts District's 'What's Blooming' event!
John Cabral May 15, 2012 at 09:17 PM
This article is good because it helps people in Oak Park with practical matters. Because the City of Chicago is shutting down the City's transportation. That has nothing to do with protesters. Mayor Rahm Emmanuel's actions are causing all of this disrtuption, not protesters. The article makes it sound as it there were a threat to the wellbeing of our people. To me it looks like the threat is just the inconvenience caused by the Secret Service. Furthermore, this article does not mention even in passing WHY anybody would want to protest the NATO summit. None of the media that I've seen say anthing about this. Why are people unhappy with NATO? Why is there opposition to NATO?
Hippies are really cool..... May 16, 2012 at 04:12 PM
LaSalle and Washington, right outside my window right now, is closed because a bunch of socialists who would love to have China dominating globally are marching down it...Yeah, this is all Rahm's fault....


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