The Rahm Emanuel administration wasn't yet in place when the Blizzard of 2011 crippled the city and shut down Lake Shore Drive -- while cars were still on it.
But the Emanuel team is owning the crisis as if it happened on their watch. Immediately after more than 1,800 vehicles became trapped on the lakefront roadway, then-candidate Emanuel said the confusion was inexcusable.
“It’s clear that there were mistakes made that we can never let happen again,” he said on February 2.
Now a report from the Office of Emergency Management seeks to make good on that promise and put in place measures to make sure the same hang-ups that plagued the February 2011 response don't happen again.
A report on the blizzard includes a number of recommendations -- called "Areas for Improvement" for how to deal with another inclement weather event. (READ THE FULL REPORT HERE.)
- Create a blizzard web site, that could disseminate information to victims, earlier in the process.
- Consider installing median cuts or vehicl outlets to allow cars to turn around or exit LSD.
- Rerouting buses based on conditions earlier in the process.
- Develop a parking plan for towed vehicles
- Create a coordinated LSD operational plan that includes triggers for when to shut it down.
- Stage CTA buses to be used as warming buses for pedestrians if an extreme weather event is anticipated.
- Conduct further discussions about the safety of CTA buses and personal vehicles on LSD during extreme weather conditions.
The mayor has taken this issue to heart, as smart Chicago politicians must. Snow removal became an integral part of Chicago politics after Michael Bilandic was ousted from office during a 1979 election for his lackluster performance on clearing the streets.
This time around, Mayor Richard Daley was largely out of the spotlight. He appeared at a press conference days after the weather event and praised the city's response. But at that time, he was counting the days until retirement, anyway.
Emanuel still has a full term left to deal with Chicago's snow woes.