Traffic studies for DePaul arena prove low impact for South Loop residents

Third Ward Alderman Pat Dowell and the Prairie District Neighborhood Alliance unveiled new traffic studies last Monday that assured residents the new Bronzeville expansion would not add significant traffic to the South Loop area.

The traffic studies looked at the main constituents to the new arena, in which DePaul men’s basketball is a major client. According to a traffic engineering consultant to the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority (MPEA), Don Jakesch, most of the DePaul men’s basketball season ticket holders are from the North Side of the city, so they will come off the expressways to get to the arena.

“The neighborhood will not be a cutthrough for anything.” Jakesch said.

The worries from South Loop residents were that the main streets around the new entertainment district would have an increase in traffic during events, however these studies suggest that there would not be many people coming from the South Loop area to attend games. The same study also suggested that most clients of the hotel that is scheduled to be built alongside the events center would serve clients that would have to come down the expressways to get to the hotel as well.

The meeting also announced some progress in security and parking developments during events at the events center. According to the Managing Deputy Commissioner for Planning and Development, Brad McConnell, a plan was in place to form security around the needs of the residents of the South Loop.

“We intend to pull a focus group of people from different constituencies,” he said.

While no definite plan was in place for security, McConnell hoped that the focus group would be able to provide a plan that provided adequate security during events while not disrupting the residents.

There were fewer developments when it came to a parking plan. Parking was not brought up in the original presentation and was only addressed when a resident asked about it in the question and answer session. McConnell said that there was no definite plan for parking, but said they would try and avoid parking in the streets. This response did not make the residents who were at the meeting happy.

“I’m going to beg that we do not have the indignity of having our cars towed like they are during Bears games,” an unnamed resident said.

Alderman Dowell responded that they were going to work on an events pass for residents to park on the streets without fear of their cars being towed, but there was nothing for certain yet.