The Driver’s Guide To Surving NATO
Stay far, far away.
That’s The Expired Meter’s best advice for driving during the duration of the NATO Summit occurring over the next few days here in Chicago–just stay the hell away from the vicinity of McCormick Place Friday night through Monday afternoon.
While streets directly adjacent to McCormick Place have been closed since this past Sunday, the scope of road closures and parking restrictions will begin at midnight Friday night/Saturday morning and continue through Monday afternoon.
If you park on a street that’s slated to be closed for this event, expect that your car will be towed starting at midnight Friday.
Here’s the full list of road closures associated with the NATO Summit.
The Secret Service and Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications believe all affected streets roadways will be open for Monday evening’s rush hour.
Major Roadways Closed
The biggest roadway impacts will be the closure of Lake Shore Drive and I-55.
Both directions of Lake Shore Drive will be closed starting downtown from East Balbo Avenue all the way south to 39th Street.
In addition, both directions of I-55 will also be closed between Lake Shore Drive and I-90/94.
Roads in and around Chicago’s lakefront museum campus (Shedd Aquarium, Field Museum, Adler Planetarium) will be closed for the duration as well.
Many other streets downtown and surrounding the above areas will be affected too.
Intermittent Closures Will Cause Traffic Tie Ups
The Secret Service and local authorities say drivers should expect intermittent roadway closures as well over the next few days to allow for motorcades to travel safely to and from NATO events around town.
On the expressways, this will mean police and other authorities will be blocking entrance ramps for hopefully short periods of times.
Drivers should expect major delays after these intermittent closures.
OEMC has provided a list of where these temporary closures may occur.
• I-90 East & West (Kennedy Expressway) between O’Hare International Airport and downtown
• Ohio Street from I-90/94 to Fairbanks Court/Columbus Drive
• Ontario Street from Fairbanks Court/Columbus Drive to I-90/94
• I-90/94 East and West between downtown and I-55
• Roosevelt Road, 18th Street, and Canalport Avenue access from I-94 West (Dan Ryan Expressway outbound)
There will also be temporary street closures around Sears Tower for the duration of the summit as well as around the Chicago Cultural Center (Michigan Ave. between Washington & Randolph) on Saturday evening into early Sunday morning.
Security High Alert
Already many downtown buildings have added extra security manpower and are on high alert. You may face higher than normal scrutiny when you try to enter a building parking structure downtown this weekend and on Monday morning.
People working or living in any of the areas affected by closures are recommended to have proper photo identification ready to show to authorities to get through security check points.
Tips For Drivers
- Minimize or eliminate your driving during NATO. The less you have to drive, the less your chances of being stuck in a NATO induced traffic jam.
- Give yourself extra time to get to your destination. If it normally takes 15 minutes to get somewhere, expect it will take twice as long or more than normal.
- If you have to drive, consult a map for alternative routes that keep you off affected streets or expressways.
- If you do choose to drive on Lake Shore Drive you have a few options. Southbound, exit west on Randolph then continue south on when you reach State St. or Halsted or Ashland Ave., proceed south until you’re past 39th street then head back east to jump back on LSD again. Northbound, exit at 47th and go west and do the opposite of above.
- Try to avoid using I-90 between downtown and O’Hare Airport during NATO because authorities will close entrance ramps to the expressway sporadically and on a moments notice for the safety of VIP motorcades.
- Sign up for free text and email alerts from the city. Notify Chicago is the name of the service and it will keep you up to date on all the events that could alter your driving plans.