As you undoubtedly know, driving on the Chicago freeway and expressway system can be pretty hazardous. The danger level increases during the morning and evening rush hour each weekday because of all of the additional vehicles trying to get to and from work.
According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, Interstate 290, which is also known as the Eisenhower Expressway or Ike, is the most accident prone in Chicagoland. Specifically, it’s the eight-mile stretch of I-290 in Cook County between Manheim Road and Cicero Avenue that passes through the communities of Maywood, Forest Park, and Oak Park as well as Chicago’s Austin neighborhood. An IDOT spokesman says that about 2,000 auto accidents occur annually along that eight-mile portion of the Ike.
This segment of the Eisenhower Expressway connects many of Chicago’s western suburbs with downtown Chicago, so it tends to be heavily-traveled throughout the week, not just during workday rush hour periods. Also, both the Tri-State Tollway and the Ronald Reagan Memorial Tollway feed into I-290 from the west, and the merging traffic creates backups starting around Manheim Road.
Within that “danger zone,” IDOT says that there are a couple of so-called hotspots for accidents around Harlem Avenue and Austin Boulevard. Not coincidentally, both of these cross-streets have exit ramps on the left side of the expressway instead of the traditional right-side off-ramps. Some officials believe that these left-exit ramps increase congestion and boost the chances of collisions, since you have exiting motorists trying to get to both sides of the freeway instead of just one.
For Illinoisans who travel through this part of Chicagoland, here are a few suggestions for not becoming an accident statistic on the Ike.
- Take an alternate route. West 22nd Street, Roosevelt Road, Washington Boulevard, and Lake Street are all roads that parallel the problematic part of the expressway between Cicero and Manheim.
- Avoid rush hour. If possible, plan your trip for between 9am and 3pm – or arrange to drive in the opposite direction of rush hour traffic.
- Be patient and alert. Resolve yourself to the fact that you will get stuck in traffic – and be aware of other drivers stopping suddenly or trying to swerve into your lane.
Even though auto accidents which occur in heavy traffic tend to be less serious than open-road crashes because of the speeds involved, motorists can and do suffer injuries due to freeway collisions. So if you are hurt in a crash on the Eisenhower Expressway that you feel was the fault of another driver, contact a qualified auto accident attorney as soon as you can.
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