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CTA Closes Bus Stops Near Obama Center Site, But They’re Still Being Used Despite Unsafe Conditions

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WOODLAWN – Several bus stops along Stony Island Avenue, which are closed indefinitely due to “unsafe” boarding conditions since the Obama Presidential Center is built in Jackson Park, are still in use by some bus drivers and passengers.

The northbound bus stops on Stony Island Avenue between 60th, 63rd and 65th Streets are closed, while the stop on 64th Street has been moved north slightly to better accommodate 63rd Street passengers. Routes #6, #15 and #28 are affected by the closures.

“Recent project work nearby has created some instances of unsafe boarding [and] descent conditions for [Chicago Transit Authority] customers, resulting in unplanned and temporary changes to bus stops,” transit authority spokesmen said in a statement.

“Every effort has been made so that two consecutive stops in a given direction are not temporarily disrupted, but certain circumstances are beyond CTA’s control,” the spokesmen said.

There is no timeframe for when regular service will resume near the Obama Center site, officials said.

Despite the closures, a driver dropped off a passenger at 65th Street, dropped off another at 63rd Street and picked up two riders at 61st Street during a Monday afternoon trip.

Later that afternoon two other drivers picked up riders at the closed 63rd Street stop, while another driver picked up a passenger at 65th Street.

Riders boarded and rode down Stony Island into the spaces between cones or concrete barriers, within walking distance of oncoming traffic. Several closed stops have uneven ground caused by gravel and construction debris.

Credit: Maxwell Evans/Block Club Chicago
The site of the closed 63rd Street stop at the southeast corner of the intersection with Stony Island Avenue. At least three bus drivers and bikers used the stop that was closed Monday afternoon, rather than an established 63rd-64th Street stop listed as open by the Chicago Transit Authority.

Drivers and riders still use the closed stops often, said Destiny, a regular rider on the 6 and 15 lines who was waiting for a southbound bus on 63rd Street on Monday. She refused to give her last name of hers.

Fate also saw riders walking behind barriers and cones, using the construction area as a makeshift sidewalk, he said.

“Not sure. They should be fine [construction] on certain parts [of the road] at a time,” Destiny said. “They just have to hurry.”

The neighbors have expressed safety concerns and complaints about bus service along Stony Island for the past few months like Roadworks related to the Obama Center impacted the avenue.

Northbound stops pose a risk to riders, said Tommy, who was waiting for a southbound bus at 64th Street. He refused to give his surname.

Tommy doesn’t regularly ride the routes along Stony Island, but it was clear on Monday that no one should use the closed stops, he said.

“It’s construction. You can drop in here,” she said.

Route change notices were not visible at several stops along Stony Island on Monday afternoon, although a flyer was posted at 65th Street, which features a shelter.

“As it does with any programmed [or] unplanned service impact, CTA will post a notice on its websiteas well as posting physical notices at affected bus stops as quickly as possible,” agency officials said Thursday.

The stop closures in effect this week have changed since the closures were first announced on October 26.

As of November 11, the 59th Street stop was closed, the 60th and 64th Street stops remained open, and service on Line 2 was affected, the Hyde Park Herald reported at the time – none of which remained true as of Monday.

“Certain temporary detours and bus stop relocations will occur to accommodate construction activities and to ensure the safety of area residents, visitors and commuters,” said Erica Schroeder, a spokeswoman for the Department of Transportation.

Credit: Maxwell Evans/Block Club Chicago
A flyer indicating the closure of several stops along Stony Island Avenue near the Obama Presidential Center site was posted on a shelter at the closed northbound 65th Street stop on November 21.
Credit: Maxwell Evans/Block Club Chicago
The Obama Presidential Center under construction as seen from Midway Plaisance Park on November 21.

The Transit Authority and the Department of Transportation are working “to ensure unrestricted access and [Americans with Disabilities Act] accessibility for all open bus stops near the Obama Center site,” the officials said.

Neither agency has clarified whether all stops currently open along Stony Island will be accessible as of Monday.

Once construction of the Obama Center is completed, some bus stops will be relocated to the opposite side of traffic light intersections and bump-outs will be installed at some stops for safer boarding, officials said.

For more information on road works related to the Obama Center, visit the project website.

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Written by Natalia Chi

Chicago Popular; Chicago breaking news, weather and live video. Covering local politics, health, traffic and sports for Chicago, the suburbs and northwest Indiana.

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