Thursday, May 07, 2009

Expressway Entrance Barricades- What's Up With That?

Have you seen these red and white gates at some of the area expressway entrances?

I got curious and did some checking. Turns out the earliest reference to these gates was 4 years ago by the Illinois Department of Transportation in response to the need for evacuation plans as proposed by the Federal Highway Administration ( part of the U.S. Dept. of Transportation).

According to an article dated October6, 2006 by Terrie Henderson at

Natural disasters, terrorist attacks and accidents all could create massive road congestion in and near Chicago, state officials said.
That's why the Illinois Department of Transportation wants to be prepared to handle any disaster that may come its way.
IDOT has started a project to install manually operated gates on the Chicago expressway entrance ramps, IDOT spokesman Mike Claffey said.
The purpose of the gates is to control access to the expressways, he said.
The section dealing with these gates in Chicago from a Federal Highway Administration publication has this to say:
Gates in Chicago, Illinois – During an evacuation, the need for traffic management can become critical to help direct people and cars fleeing from the evacuated area and to ensure additional people and cars do not enter the evacuated area. The Illinois Department of Transportation is “testing an emergency plan to shut off access to downtown Chicago from local expressways during a terrorist attack or other catastrophe in the Loop, officials said Tuesday (May 17, 2005). The measure is aimed at speeding up the evacuation of the downtown during a disaster by more effectively controlling traffic and panicky drivers. It involves installing up to 80 gates to block access to inbound expressway ramps along five interstate highways that lead into the city, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT). The remotely operated gates, a heavy-duty version of the barriers already in place on the Kennedy Expressway's reversible express lanes, would swing closed to prevent vehicles from entering highways to travel to or through the central business district,” as reported in the Chicago Tribune article “Gates Would Cut Access to Loop in Terror Attack.”

In addition, according to the article, “the automatic gates would free up officers for other duties in an emergency. The Chicago region's evacuation plan counts on posting police at highway ramps to stop non-emergency vehicles from entering. ‘With the gates, you wouldn’t need a police cruiser blocking or guarding every ramp,’ said IDOT spokesman Mike Claffey. If the experiment is successful, the barrier system would be expanded to include up to 80 inbound ramps on the Kennedy, Dan Ryan, Eisenhower, Stevenson and Edens Expressways, Claffey said.”

By this time, there may be automatic gates in place. The one pictured appears to be operated manually.

Call me a skeptic, but do these gates give you the same feeling of being herded like cattle as they do for me? I haven't done a close-up inspection yet, but this is Chicago, after all. There must be a quarter slot on them somewhere.

Planning My Escape
Not Wired


Capn said...

My first reaction to those gates were that it would be easier to shut down the Kennedy if Obama wanted to go home over the weekend; hang with Oprah.

I remember Clinton and Gore shutting down the expressways often in their time...

However, I have a bit of casual skepticism - since I like to do something like THINK occasionally - so I don't trust the press report any more than anything else out of an Illinois government office.

Cap'n @

Not Wired said...

So true! Clinton and Gore had no conscience about disrupting daily life just for a visit. I do need to get out and see how many of these things have already been installed, though. Thanks for reading and commenting. Hope it was entertaining, too.

Lee said...

these gates seem to me to be ready for some hydraulic(motor)attachment in order to be working.
Gates are on the outbound ramps already too.

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