Sometimes I hate being right...
About a year ago a wrote a post about what I said was the worst intersection in Chicago - Elston / Damen / Fullerton. This 6 way intersection is a complete disaster.
However, I walk to work every day and there is a downtown intersection that seems just as confusing, if not responsible for as much lost time in traffic. This intersection is Upper Wacker Drive / Lower Wacker Drive / and Randolph Avenue. At this point Lower Wacker Drive rises up and allows cars to merge onto Upper Wacker Drive (going south) or they can turn onto Randolph Avenue (going west). However, the vast majority of pedestrians and vehicles are totally confused by the prospect of a car emerging from Lower Wacker drive and crossing their path; even though the light says not to go it is very hard for them to resist going against the light because this situation is so unexpected. The home made graphic below shows how the intersection "works".
Since I walk through this intersection every day I was planning to do a post on it. I took a boring picture of a car coming out of Lower Wacker Drive (in this case, a dreaded taxicab) about to cut in front of a SUV by either going west on Randolph or south on UPPER Wacker drive (2 distinctly different streets). The picture didn't seem too exciting so I left it in my camera and went back to my work.
A couple of days later, however, I was walking to work when I saw a sea of flashing lights and emergency vehicles. The red station wagon collided with a taxicab and it seemed to be a serious accident. As I walked near the car the emergency crews flipped the red station wagon over onto its wheels - it had been upside down in the intersection (that is generally a sign of a powerful hit). I didn't get a photo or movie of that event, but I saw it.
A note here... since I am a blogger and not really a "professional" journalist sometimes I don't know how far to push the camera stuff. I don't want to get in the way of a crime scene and I don't want to seem like I am taking advantage of someone who is hurt so I don't want anyone to think I am taking lurid photos. I could have taken closer photos but I figured it was a tad bit classier to walk down the street a bit and be discreet.
In the last 2 photos you can see the wrecked taxicab, the station wagon, and the emergency vehicles. I hope no one was seriously hurt.
It isn't obvious to me what the city can do but they could start with some additional signage. They could put a sign for pedestrians saying that cars are emerging from Lower Wacker Drive please do not cross against the light. Someone who is an urban planner should be thinking hard about how to fix this intersection.