Plan now for the NASCAR race in July: Which major Chicago streets will close before, during, after
Heading to downtown Chicago in late June or early July? It's a good idea to leave the driving to the professionals as many streets, including DuSable Lake Shore Drive, will be closed when the NASCAR Chicago Street Race vrooms into town.
Chicago officials Monday unveiled traffic plans for races on July 1 and 2 that will feature NASCAR stars speeding past Buckingham Fountain and Grant Park.
The 2.2-mile racecourse with 12 turns will wrap around Michigan Avenue, plus DuSable Lake Shore, Columbus, Balbo and Jackson drives. Portions of those roads will shut down for the event as well as other nearby streets, and parking restrictions will be in effect also.
The city "can make it work, yes. But it's probably going to be painful at least for some people if you're trying do things downtown," Northwestern University logistics expert Hani S. Mahmassani said.
"Just imagine New Year's Eve with fireworks at Navy Pier. Now imagine that over three days in terms of closures and so on. I would so be concerned about that," added Mahmassani, director of Northwestern Transportation Center.
Preparations for the spectacle begin June 25. Dismantling the course and seating areas should stretch through July 15; main arteries will reopen first.
Here's a look at some major traffic impacts to expect near the racecourse.
• June 10: Ida B. Wells Drive will close east of Michigan Avenue so workers can construct viewing areas.
• June 17-25: Temporary road closures are expected in the racecourse area for track wall installation.
• June 25: Columbus Drive between Jackson Drive and Roosevelt Road shuts down.
• June 28: At 10 p.m., southbound DuSable Lake Shore Drive between Randolph Street and McFetridge Drive closes.
• June 29: At 8 p.m., Roosevelt Road east of Columbus Drive and northbound Michigan Avenue will close.
• June 30; At 5 p.m., southbound Michigan Avenue from Balbo to Jackson drives shuts down.
• July 1: Northbound DuSable Lake Shore Drive will close between Randolph Street and McFetridge Drive but reopen later on July 2.
Local NASCAR fans will be in heaven, but suburbanites heading downtown for other reasons the week starting June 25 should consider public transit, allow extra time or postpone trips, experts said.
"The entire week before, it is probably going to be a little frustrating for people who are trying to drive in the area, if they're trying to access any of the businesses or institutions in that general area, including the Art Institute of Chicago," Mahmassani said.
NASCAR Xfinity Series drivers will compete July 1, followed by a first-of-its-kind NASCAR Cup Series street race on July 2.
NASCAR also is sponsoring a festival in Grant Park featuring shows by performers including The Chainsmokers and Miranda Lambert.
In anticipation of extra demand, Metra is considering longer or extra trains, but details are sill being worked out.
Chicago officials said pedestrian access to Grant Park will continue during the event, and attractions such as Buckingham Fountain and the Museum Campus will remain open. The Chicago Lakefront Bicycle Path also will be accessible.
"Safety is our top priority, and we will help monitor all race activity leading up to the event, through the race weekend, and following the event to help coordinate city resources and expectations," Chicago Office of Emergency Management Executive Director Rich Guidice said.
For information and tickets, go to NASCAR Chicago Street Race.