How to get to the course in time to hang with Tiger and Rory
Sunglasses? Check. Plus fours? Check. Sunscreen? Check. Sharpie for autographs? Check. Transportation plan to get you to the Ryder Cup? Che........
Don't worry. That's what I'm here for.
A gazillion golf fans will converge on Medinah Country Club this week to watch an American beat-down (not guaranteed) of the European squad.
If you're among the volunteers or lucky fans who scored tickets to the tournament or practice rounds, don't even think about driving to the country club, as part of Medinah Road will be blocked off today through Sunday.
However, there are two convenient suburban lots where you can park and grab a bus, or you can take Metra's Milwaukee West Line and walk from the Medinah train station.
The logistics are complicated but familiar to Robert Kolar, DuPage County Department of Transportation highway permitting manager. He helped the PGA navigate traffic issues in 1999 and 2006 for previous marquee tournaments at Medinah, and he's back for the Ryder.
"There's a lot of similarities," Kolar said. "The only difference is there may be more weather issues ... there's more chance for wet conditions. But there are contingency plans for rain events."
Planners worked on the logistics for more than a year. Challenges organizers face include the fact the international competition will draw a larger fan base and that construction on Route 53 has made Medinah Road a popular alternate for drivers.
"This is the World Series of golf -- it's the largest Ryder Cup event to date with anywhere from 40,000 to 50,000 (in attendance) a day," Kolar said.
Local drivers will experience some angst given that Medinah Road will be blocked off between Lake Street and Irving Park Road. The road normally handles about 12,500 to 13,000 vehicles daily so it's not an insignificant closure.
Fans can help by sticking to the official lots and not going rogue by searching the neighborhood for ad hoc parking.
"There's a lot of parking venues people will be charging for. All the PGA parking is free," said Kolar, adding that people trolling for neighborhood parking will clog up local roads for buses and shuttles.
Meanwhile Metra is expanding capacity to accommodate Ryder Nation, adding an express train to Medinah from Union Station early in the morning, for example.
"We want to make it easier for people to get to the event on the weekend," Metra spokeswoman Meg Reile said. "It's an easier way to get to the event without the hassles of finding parking."
And the Chicago Department of Aviation is preparing to greet the foreign visitors who pour into the region this week.
"Front-line staff at both O'Hare and Midway International Airports will wear Ryder Cup lapel pins to show their support," spokesman Gregg Cunningham said. "Digital signage along the roadway entrances/exits at both O'Hare and Midway will display messages to promote the Ryder Cup and welcome those in town for the event."
Here are some quick facts:
• Medinah Road between Lake Street and Irving Park Road is blocked between now and Sunday. The detour route is Lake Street to Bloomingdale/Roselle Road to Irving Park Road to Medinah Road.
• There are two parking lots for ticket holders: at East Branch Forest Preserve, on Glen Ellyn Road near Glendale Heights, and at Arlington Park in Arlington Heights. Buses to the event will run every 10 to 15 minutes.
• Metra's Milwaukee West Line stops at Medinah station, just a quick walk from the course. Metra will be adding cars and trains to accommodate fans.
Just remember, "you can't drive to the golf course," Kolar said. "With state police and other local policing agencies, this will be strictly enforced."
For any weather-related or other changes regarding transportation, you can check out the Ryder and Medinah Country Club websites. Information also will be posted on digital signs leading to venues. The site most likely to be affected with heavy rain is the East Branch Forest Preserve, which has grass parking.
"We're doing our best to try and bring every scenario into thought," Kolar said.
Where to find out more? Go to rydercup.com/, medinahcc.org or metrarail.com/metra/en/home/service_updates/ryder_cup_at_medinahcountryclub.html.
Mike Kohler-Rausch of Villa Park is underwhelmed by the Illinois tollway's interchange construction at I-57 and the Tri-State Tollway (I-294).
"A few years ago I went to University of Illinois Urbana Champaign, and my brother before me," he wrote. "Before the ramp was built from I-355 to I-80 we always took I-294 south. As excruciating as the extra mile was to get onto I-80 shortly to get onto I-57, I am happy to say we dealt with it for the decade my family was involved with not having a ramp there. I do not understand the justification to save people one mile for the cost of ($719) million when the state can't pay its bills to all of our public schools statewide -- hence the drastic tuition increases at universities, and budget cuts in our secondary and lower school systems. Then to add to this the idea of displacing people who are being forced to move.
"I understand it is meant to be a 'stimulus' to an area of the state in terms of jobs, but it is grossly ignoring so many other professions and how the money could properly be spent to invest in the future, or repair bridges across the state, or repave other roads that are in incredible need in residential areas. This is not even mentioning the repaving of a large section of I-294 which had good quality concrete that had a decade or two left in it -- with signs telling me 'for a smoother ride' when the expressway was perfectly fine previously."
Russell Roadians, beware. IDOT is closing ramps entering and exiting the northbound Tri-State at Russell Road for repair work that will last until early November. Detours will be posted. Rebuilding the Russell Road interchange will cost $10 million and finish up around May 2013.
The Illinois tollway hosts an open house on its Route 47 and I-90 interchange project in Huntley today. The event runs from 2 to 6 p.m. at the Sun City Prairie Lodge, 12880 Del Webb Blvd., Huntley. The tollway is upgrading the site from a partial to a full interchange and adding six new ramps.
You're the role modelA new study shows teen drivers think their parents are hypocrites when they get behind the wheel. The study of about 1,700 teenagers by Liberty Mutual Insurance and Students Against Destructive Decisions found 91 percent of parents talk on a cellphone while driving, 88 percent speed and 20 percent drive drunk. Not surprisingly, 66 percent of adolescents surveyed said they think their parents have a "do as I say, not as I do" attitude, the survey indicated.