Will the Bears Pace bus be faster this season? Your transit questions answered

What's faster than Chicago Bears running back Jordan Howard?

Reader George Wilkalis hopes it will be his Pace Express bus to Soldier Field in October. We answer his transit questions and others in this week's column, plus tap into angst over drones.

Wilkalis frequently hops on a Pace express bus from Schaumburg when he has Bears tickets. It beats driving in traffic, but “Monday night game travel to Soldier Field is always slow,” he noted. “Do you know if the bus will be able to use an express lane on the Jane Addams Tollway for Monday night travel, specifically Oct. 9?”

You're in luck, Pace spokeswoman Maggie Daly Skogsbakken replied. A rebuild of the Jane Addams Tollway (I-90) allowed for “Flex Lanes” on the shoulder to accommodate Pace buses. Testing is ongoing and should be ready Sept. 5.

“When the Flex Lanes are open and traffic is going less than 35 miles an hour, all Pace fixed route and express bus services will use the Flex Lanes up to the I-294 interchange. Buses will still travel in the regular lanes on the Kennedy Expressway,” Skogsbakken said.

Meanwhile, Elmhurst resident Ken Dietz is tired - in more ways than one - of déjà vu noise from jets at O'Hare International Airport. He asked if diagonal Runway 4-Right/22-Left is likely to be decommissioned in the future when the airport modernization is complete.

“The upsetting thing is that we suffered for decades with almost daily landings 24/7 overhead till about five or six years ago when they stopped and were directed over the city,” Dietz said. Now the din is back at night.

“Runways 4-Right/22-Left and 4-Left/22-Right will remain important to O'Hare's airfield in the rare instances when strong crosswinds prevent air traffic from operating in an east or west configuration,” a Chicago Department of Aviation spokesman said.

The use of “rare” is significant in that O'Hare's sixth and final parallel runway will be finished in 2020. Then, the airport will switch to a system that uses the parallel runways most of the time. But what happens at night is yet to be determined.

Shifting to a different kind of aircraft, Gerald Bromley of Schaumburg was visited by a drone and thinks the flying machines “are a bad deal for residential areas and have no business being in them (exception authorized surveying and emergency agencies).”

Meanwhile, en route to O'Hare recently, Harry Kiriluk of Inverness was amazed at all the cars sitting on the I-190 shoulder lanes and also on the Mannheim entrance to the airport. “I am not sure if there is a cosmic force that is causing all of these cars to break down at the same time or if these are people who are parked on the shoulder and waiting for a flight to arrive so they can pick up a passenger. I suspect that it is the latter,” Kiriluk said.

“Don't these people know that there is a cellphone lot to wait for flights to arrive? Yes, it does take an extra two minutes to go to and from that lot, but it's a lot less risky.”

Lastly, Karl Landl read “with shock” my story on the Illinois tollway raising speeds on I-90. “This is stupidity, as I-90 has been and always will be a speedway especially between Route 53 and Elgin,” Landl said.

“I travel it frequently and know precisely what's going on at any time. Fortunately I'm an educated driver and use the driving lanes only by obeying the speed limits. I hardly ever use a passing lane, being afraid of getting run over by some idiot going 80 to 90 mph!”

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Eye on the sky

Headed to Southern Illinois to marvel at the solar eclipse Aug. 21? So are 200,000 other people. To make your trip speedier, IDOT will open up lanes closed for road work along the I-57 corridor and coordinate with state and local police to prevent the celestial sight from snarling traffic on terra firma. To learn more, go to

<h3 class="leadin">Gridlock alert

Sorry, Waukegan. IDOT is resurfacing Route 131 starting this week and finishing ... in late October. Expect lane closures throughout the day.

IDOT is fixing Route 20 in Marengo Wednesday, which means single-lane traffic in each direction with flaggers through October.

Real-time traffic, alerts to go live on I-90 this summer

Third runway test passes committee; changes could affect Des Plaines, Elmhurst

Carbondale prepares for August solar eclipse

New pedestrian bridge at Barrington Road part of express bus option on I-90

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