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Is Lincoln Park Traffic Gridlock A Symptom Of Over Development?

Where was the ghost of actor George C. Scott portraying World War II Gen. George S. Patton when the Great Lincoln Park Traffic Jam Nightmare occurred on May 31st?

In the academy-award winning movie, the late, great actor Scott, while portraying Patton, encountered a massive traffic jam at a muddy crossroads while the U.S. Army was sweeping across France and Belgium in December of 1944. Scott, as Patton, was on his way to Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge, one of the biggest and bloodiest battles of World War II.

Acting as a traffic cop while perched on his Jeep, Scott barks orders like “Old Blood and Guts,” takes command of the crossroads and untangles a mass of gridlocked U.S. Army tanks, trucks and griping GIs in a matter of minutes.

This writer—along with thousands of other motorists—longed for a Patton-like traffic cop to save them while trapped for up to two hours in rain soaked vehicles on the way to get a mandatory auto emissions test at the State of Illinois’ facility at 1850 W. Webster Ave. in Bucktown.

Between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. on May 31st, massive traffic backlogs were reported near Webster and Ashland, where motorists complained of being stranded for hours. Bumper-to-bumper backups also were reported on Southport between Fullerton and Webster, and on Clybourn between Fullerton and Diversey.

Aggressive Lincoln Parkers driving Escalades, Land Rovers and other luxury SUVs pushed their way from side streets into major thoroughfares containing traffic that was just inching along.

These idiotic drivers actually worsened the gridlock by not waiting at stop signs for side-street traffic in front of them to clear the right-of-way.

They just stubbornly blocked intersections like the U.S. Army tanks and trucks on that muddy road to Bastogne. Only bicycle traffic was moving. And, neither the ghost of George C. Scott, nor a Chicago traffic cop was there to unknot the mess.

Last week’s historic Lincoln Park traffic jam resulted after thousands of city motorists received 3-inch-by-5-inch postcards from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) that announced: “Your Vehicle’s Emission Test Is Now Due!”

“Records indicate your vehicle must comply with the Illinois Vehicle Emissions Inspection Law of 2005”—before May 31, 2016—in order to renew its registration, the notice warned.

“Please take the vehicle to an official Air Team inspection facility before the test date displayed on the front of this postcard,” the notice directed.

Angry motorists can partly blame the State of Illinois for being trapped in Lincoln Park traffic jail. The rush to obtain an emission test was partially caused by the nearly bankrupt state foregoing the mailing of notices on mandatory vehicle testing, analyst say.

Between December of 2015 and April of 2016, the cash-strapped IEPA stopped sending out notices. While the notices were suspended the Illinois Secy. Of State’s office stopped requiring car owners to show proof they had passed an emissions test before renewing their license plates.

Having already renewed the Illinois vehicle sticker on my Chrysler 300C in March of 2016, and affixed it to the license plate, this writer wondered: “Why did I foolishly rush out like a lemming toward 1850 W. Webster for a mandatory emissions test?”

One revelation was clear. Based on the horn-blowing, yelling-motorists and lack of driving etiquette on every gridlocked street in Lincoln Park, frustrated residents are beginning to realize life is just too congested to be enjoyable in one of Chicago’s most desirable neighborhoods.

With new luxury rental buildings and condominiums under construction everywhere and dumpsters parked in front of expensive renovations on nearly every street, Lincoln Park perhaps is becoming over developed.

Toss in the city of Chicago’s never-ending sewer work to replace 150-year-old infrastructure, Commonwealth Edison and Peoples Gas utility work, and event gridlock caused by endless summer street fests, and we truly have created an un-moveable feast of traffic gridlock in Lincoln Park, Lake View and other North Side lakefront neighborhoods.

Last week, Ald. Michele Smith (43rd) wisely warned drivers to stay away from several streets in Lincoln Park. Maybe it’s time to call a moratorium on development, too.

For more housing news, visit Don DeBat is co-author of “Escaping Condo Jail,” the ultimate survival guide for condominium living. Visit

“The book is Escaping Condo Jail by Sara Benson and Don DeBat. I would say that anybody thinking about buying a condo, or even anybody serving on a condo board, or anybody who has any connection to a condo, this is must reading—all 600 and something pages. Thanks a lot for a great book!”


Steve Sanders, “Your Money Matters” WGN TV, December 22, 2014

By Don DeBat

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