You can’t wish away traffic for the Obama Center

To the Editor:

You can’t just wish traffic away; it won’t work.

Cornell Drive is part of a primary city-wide traffic artery, connecting Downtown to the Chicago Skyway and the Bishop Ford Freeway via South Lake Shore Drive and Stony Island Avenue. This artery is a primary alternate to the Dan Ryan, and was recommended during the recent Dan Ryan construction. This route is also the primary way for us Hyde Parkers to head south. It cannot simply be closed because it’s inconvenient for the Obama museum.

One place the traffic will go is down our already-busy Hyde Park streets, filtering between Lake Shore Drive and Stony Island. This already happens to some extent, but it will get much, much worse. Lake Park Avenue and Hyde Park Boulevard will become bumper-to-bumper. 47th Street and 56th Street will become choke points, trapping us in traffic. Stony Island starting at 56th Street will get much busier, right past the new university nursery school.

If you want to see what this could become, go up to the North Side at rush hour to where Lake Shore Drive ends at Hollywood and Sheridan.

Imagine those streets, which are in constant gridlock, happening in Hyde Park.

The Obama Foundation should either reconsider the site and locate in Washington Park, or should design a structure that bridges over Cornell Drive. If done right, such a bridging structure could become an attractive way to improve accessibility between the interior of Jackson Park and the surrounding neighborhoods, without disrupting long-established city-wide traffic flow patterns.

Roger Deschner