Thursday, January 21, 2016
The Romans managed it
That was fast.
It's been, what, a month since the bright red "Loop Link" lanes opened on Madison and Washington, special bus-only routes designed to more than double the speeds that Chicago Transit Authority buses transverse the Loop, from an average of 3 mph, which is slower than briskly walking, to a giddy 7.5.
But just look at at them. A month of being pounded by traffic and what was described as "red pavement" in the city's grandiose plans of last year has revealed itself in the harsh light of January to be more like red tar paper, and is already coming up in big chunks. You can't very well expect drivers to avoid the red lanes if the "BUS ONLY" designation has peeled up and blown away.
Already plagued by delays over the past six months and greeted with a chorus of complaints from drivers who suddenly find Loop streets a lot narrower, the $32 million project might not have increased bus speeds, but it's given the downtown a shabby, am-in-Detroit-or-what? feel.
If this were in the newspaper, I'd feel obligated to call the city department of transportation four or five times to squeeze out whatever half-hearted and feeble explanation they'd offer to illuminate What Went Wrong, and what Might Happen Next and why pave-the-road-so-it-doesn't-come-up-immediately technology, which was mastered in Roman times, seems to have eluded the City of Chicago, the City That Works Except When It Doesn't. But if I hear from the city, I'll rush to append it below.
In the meantime, the in-depth investigative work that led to these photos delayed my walk to the train a full 10 or 20 seconds one day last week. Additional investigation, which entailed walking down Washington Street on my way into work Thursday morning, showed that the red bus lane there is fine, so perhaps this is a localized screw-up limited to Madison Street's unique ecology, whatever that might be. Perhaps you, in your leisurely strolling, can find further examples of this latest embarrassment. Still, I suppose we should count our blessings, and not complain too much about a screw-up like this. At least no one was killed.