* This little-discussed factoid is getting lost in the mega-uproar about the thousand or so cars stranded on Lake Shore Drive Tuesday night…
Though some people were stuck in their cars as late as 3:30 a.m., officials said most of those people were drivers reluctant to abandon their cars until firefighters ordered them to do so.
One can only wonder how many times those stubborn dolts were offered assistance before they had to be ordered out of their precious automobiles by cold, exhausted firefighters. That’s time which could’ve been far better spent helping others truly in need.
Only a fraction of the thousands of cars on LSD Tuesday night actually got stuck, and nobody was seriously hurt. Closing the Drive early would have undoubtedly caused nightmarish problems on arterial roads. We don’t know if the situation would’ve been worse, but those same cars would’ve been much more spread out than they were Tuesday, and, therefore, more difficult to reach…
“The question was do we eliminate Lake Shore Drive as an option, which would’ve essentially diverted thousands of drivers onto other roads”, [Mayor Daley’s chief of staff Raymond Orozco] pointed out. He says that would’ve created even more traffic and dangerous travel conditions on other city streets.
* Apparently, the guy in charge Tuesday was not Mayor Daley but hizzoner’s chief of staff, who was quickly fed to the angry hordes yesterday…
Aware of the complaints, Orozco took full responsibility for the timing of the Drive shutdown and apologized to the hundreds of motorists who were inconvenienced.
Still, Orozco said he made “the right decision” in waiting until nearly 8 p.m. to close the road. He said he weighed the effect of diverting traffic off Lake Shore Drive sooner and concluded the city would be safer without thousands of cars spilling onto local roads.
“In a storm of this magnitude there is no way to predict from minute to minute what problems may arise,” Orozco said. “But what we know at this time is no serious injuries or loss of life [happened] based upon the option that I chose during what was called a life-threatening storm.
“What we believe is we obtained the best possible outcome.”
But that won’t stop the political recriminations…
“If reports that Mayor Daley was not involved in the actual decision making on the city’s response are true, that’s a disappointment, ”Carol Moseley Braun said through a spokeswoman.
A spokeswoman for Gery Chico said he believed there would be time later to play the role of “Monday morning quarterback.” Instead, Chico saluted the courage of city workers who responded to the weather emergency, especially police, paramedics and firefighters. Their unions, by coincidence, have all endorsed Chico. […]
Referring to the now internationally-notorious traffic mess along the lakefront, Emanuel said in a written statement: “We need to get to the bottom of what happened last night on Lake Shore Drive — with hundreds of passengers stranded for hours, it’s clear that there were mistakes made that we can never let happen again. And we need a comprehensive review to determine what went wrong and what went right throughout the city.”
Lake Shore Drive has been reopened, by the way
* The cost to the city’s budget is going to be astronomical. $100 million is the number being tossed around…
The last time the city implemented Phase 4 of its snow plan — by calling out private contractors to assist with snow removal — it boosted the total storm tab to a whopping $77 million.
For that 1999 storm, Daley requested federal disaster assistance, as he did again this week. Back then, he was ultimately forced to raise an array of taxes, blaming at least some of it on the snow.
This time, the tab is likely to approach $100 million. The next mayor is already facing a structural deficit in the $1 billion range when pension obligations are factored in. Daley managed to hold the line on taxes in his final budget, only after draining all but $76 million from the 75-year, $1.15 billion lease that privatized Chicago parking meters.
And that’s just for Chicago. Lots of suburban and Downstate communities are gonna be in much worse fiscal shape by the time this thing is over.
* More stuff…
* Next problem: Where to put all that snow - Municipalities scramble to find acceptable dumping sites
* How about the side streets? City officials say “as soon as possible”
* Airports dig out; CPS to close 2nd day
* Snow prevents area’s mail delivery
* National Guard mobilized to help stranded motorists
* Counties declare state of emergency
* Video: Chopper footage of Lake Shore Drive
* Blizzard’s gone, bitter cold is in
* Plowing ahead: Road crews weary after massive storm effort
* Editor’s snow hero: CTA bus driver
* VIDEO: Mary Ann Ahern describes her experience of being on Lake Shore Drive when Mother Nature got angry.
* Hospitals low on blood: ‘We just need people to give if they can give’
* Riding along
with Illinois National Guard
* Tips from Ameren on electricity, gas and weather
* Brown: Still, I get tired of the scapegoating. Maybe this one time we could just figure out what went wrong and how to avoid the same problem in the future without insisting that somebody take the fall. This was clearly a unique weather situation.