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Summits Could Create Commuting Nightmares

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The Stevenson Expressway, Lake Shore Drive and Amtrak and Metra trains are all uncomfortably close to McCormick Place. The Host Committee said details on closings and the outlines of security perimeters around the convention hall and delegation hotels, could come just two to four weeks before the two summits in May. (Published Monday, Feb 27, 2012)

    Think you're avoiding the potential hassles of Chicago's moment in the 80-nation spotlight of the upcoming G8 and NATO summits?

    Think again.

    If you use the Stevenson Expressway into or out of downtown, take Lake Shore Drive, or ride a train anywhere south of the loop, there is a good chance your life will be impacted in ways you may not have imagined.

    The Stevenson -- Interstate 55 -- wraps around the McCormick Place Convention Center as it makes its merge into Lake Shore Drive. The Drive itself bisects the McCormick Place complex. With fears of everything from truck bombs to weak spots in an otherwise impenetrable perimeter, it seems both would be on the short list of potential summit-weekend closings.

    And then there are the trains.

    When McCormick Place's West building was constructed, it was built over train tracks which have run south from downtown along the lakefront for decades. Scored of trains operated by Amtrak, the South Shore Railroad and the Metra Electric lines pass underneath the West building every day.

    With the leaders of some 80 nations expected to be in attendance, those trains stick out like sore thumbs to wary security personnel.

    Nothing has been announced. At a G8 restaurant event Monday, Host Committee chief Lori Healey said once again it will be up to the Secret Service to make final determinations on access or lack thereof to the two buildings.

    The Host Committee said details on closings and the outlines of security perimeters around the convention hall and delegation hotels, could come just two to four weeks before the two summits in May.