Road Closure – Detour in Education

Melissa Brand, Staff Writer

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Courtesy of NEIU

Construction will be winding down around most parts of the city in the next few weeks, except around Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU). During a three-phase construction job that started Aug. 4, 2012 and continues through October, Foster Avenue, one of the two main conduit streets NEIU students use to get to campus, will undergo major construction. Old sewers that date back to the 1920s will be replaced to help stop flooding issues in the area. The City of Chicago Department of Water Management stated that “in-house work will begin in late August, and we expect to be done installing the new sewer in mid-October. Restoration of the damaged streets/parkways will follow,” in a memo dated July 10, 2012. This meant street closures and travel detours for most students and residents around NEIU just as the Fall semester started.

The City originally coordinated with Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) to reroute the 92 Foster bus to travel down Lawrence from Kimball to Pulaski until Oct.10, 2012. The bus stop closest to campus would have been at Kimball and Foster, potentially inconveniencing hundreds of NEIU students, employees and neighbors. Concerns were raised about students with disabilities that depend on the CTA being disproportionately affected by the rerouting. However, as of Aug. 27 the CTA rerouted the 92 Foster bus to stop much closer, near the intersection of Bryn Mawr and Central Park.

Besides the Foster Avenue detour, the plans included a parking ban on Bryn Mawr to ease the extra traffic flow. The Bryn Mawr parking ban went into effect on Aug. 22, 2012 and according to the posted signs, will remain until Sept. 22, 2012. NEIU students and employees that normally park on Bryn Mawr must find alternate parking or face tickets, towing and the hefty fines associated with them. According to an Aug. 8, 2012 memo from Mark Wilcockson, VP for Finance and Administration at NEIU, “A temporary Level II parking permit will be made available to the NEIU community for purchase during the duration of the closures.” The temporary permits will cost a flat rate of $35. Daily parking permits will still be available for $5 for those that drive only occasionally. Also during the week of Aug. 22, 2012, a new turn lane was created on Bryn Mawr to help the flow into the main campus entrance.

The initial work started on St. Louis at Foster and had St. Louis closed just past the WTTW building. The second phase started Aug. 14, 2012 which closed Foster from the east side of St. Louis to the east side of the NEIU access road. Originally, the Foster entrance was to remain partially open until Sept. 10, 2012 but in a campus memo released the week of Aug. 22, 2012, a change in the schedule was announced and the Foster entrance was to completely close as of Aug. 27, 2012. Dana Navarro, NEIU Director of Public Relations stated that during this phase, “There will be no access from Foster at all. Cars should use Bryn Mawr and allow extra travel time.”

NEIU also released a second memo saying they were working with the City of Chicago to provide an additional option for people leaving the campus. Effective Thursday, August 30 at 9 a.m., vehicles may exit the main campus from the access road onto Foster going westbound only. The NEIU Foster entrance will remain closed to all incoming traffic as well as outbound traffic toward the east. All dates of this project depend on the weather and any unforeseen challenges the construction teams may find.

NEIU will post signs and reminders with updates around campus, on the university’s website and social media pages. The NEIU community should be alert to more traffic and changes in traffic patterns when driving or walking around campus.

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