Tweets Spur CDOT to Shut Down Illegal Construction in Dearborn Bike Lane

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The construction work blocked the Dearborn bike lane as well as a crosswalk. Photo Kevin Zolkewicz

Yesterday Twitter users notified the Chicago Department of Transportation about an unpermitted closure of the Dearborn Street two-way protected bike lane and a crosswalk. To their credit, CDOT acted swiftly to shut down the illegal blockage at Randolph Street, caused by contractors working for SBC Communications.

The bike lane is one of the city’s busiest and most important because it’s the only bikeway for southbound cyclists within the Loop. Blocking the two-way lane was particularly problematic for southbound cyclists, because they didn’t have the option of merging into northbound travel lanes to get around the work site.

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Looking south on Dearborn towards Randolph. Photo: Kevin Zolkiewicz

Cyclists who encountered the blockage yesterday morning tweeted about the problem using the #bikeCHI hashtag yesterday morning. Streetsblog reader Kevin Zolkiewicz also sent us photos of the situation, which I forwarded to CDOT. According to a CDOT staffer, the department learned about the issue via the tweets and sent an inspector to the site .

According to CDOT spokesman Mike Claffey, an electrical contractor had obtained a permit but “did not state that they would be working in the bike lane or blocking the bike lane.” The inspector shut down the work immediately, by 1:30 p.m., and ordered the crew to clear all equipment. Claffey said that the contractor Archon Construction, working for SBC Communications, was cited and wouldn’t be allowed to resume work until they provide a traffic maintenance plan.

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By mid-afternoon, the bike lane and crosswalk were open again. Photo: John Greenfield

The photos Zolkiewicz provided served to document the violation. If an administrative law judge finds the company liable for the citation, the construction company could be fined between $500 and $2,500.

  • Anne A

    Bravo!

  • Pat

    John,

    Any idea of CDOT’s response to whats taking so long regarding that Milwaukee/Elston bike lane blockage?

  • johnaustingreenfield

    We’re working on it.

  • NIMBY76

    SBC Communications? Isn’t that company long gone? Now AT&T?

  • ev_one

    So what if they come back to CDOT and their traffic maintenance plan is “ask to close the bike lane” ?

  • Dan Korn

    Presumably CDOT would either deny their plan to close the bike lane, or make them set up and mark an alternate route.

  • Jared Kachelmeyer

    Although it would be quicker to walk your bike on the sidewalk than go around the block…

  • Lee J

    Well done, cycling community! Thank you for your vigilance and actions.

  • Good question.
    Protected bike lanes have a “moratorium” for certain kinds of work (I don’t know much more than this).

    The last time the Dearborn bike lane was closed in this area, I believe that it was also a pretty sorry detour. Southbound cyclists were supposed to go west on Lake Street to State Street or Wabash Avenue (although Wabash may have been closed at that time). I don’t remember what northbound cyclists were supposed to do. Probably merge into traffic on Dearborn.

  • Ha, yes, this.

  • Sorta. If you look at the legal entities of who own/maintain the lines in Illinois, it’s still a company called SBC. It’s probably not worth it to rename every company to “AT&T”. In any case, all of the “SBC Communications” records in the Secretary of State’s database are registered in Delaware.

  • Isn’t the Dearborn lane closed here, like, every weekend? That’s been my experience all summer.

  • Cameron Puetz

    CDOT set up a bike detour, you must be new here.

  • Cameron Puetz

    Based on how work earlier this summer was handled, that’s exactly what i expect to have happen.

  • Dan Korn

    I’m not sure what you mean, Cameron. I was merely giving a hypothetical answer to ev_one’s hypothetical question. Although if you’re saying that a bike detour actually was set up since yesterday, then it seems my hypothesis was correct.

  • Dan Korn

    True, although I don’t it’s reasonable to expect that a convenient detour is possible in every conceivable construction scenario. I think the point is that some consideration should be given to the impact of construction on cyclists, especially in a marked bike lane. A detour, even one that’s less convenient than walking, is still better than nothing.

  • Cameron Puetz

    Sorry, I ment it as a sarcastic dig at CDOT’s typically non existent or terrible bike detours. Rereading it I see that my original comment is confusing.

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