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October, 2007:

Rating the alternates


The good ol days...

We are not quite halfway through the Fall session of IDOT’s Edens Expressway project. I won’t speculate on whether or not this project was necessary (remember, in this state, necessity is subjective), but I have obviously had to experiment with alternate routes on my way home from Loyola two nights a week, plus any other time I have to drive home from Chicago. The verdict? There is no good alternate. To wit:

Alternate No. 1: Take Kennedy beyond the junction to Central Ave. Central to Milwaukee Ave., to Waukegan Road in Niles. Waukegan Rd. home.

Result: I took this route on the Sunday afternoon after the project started on my way home from a wedding in Fort Wayne. It took only another four minutes to get to Central from the junction, but after that, a backup on the left-hand turn lane at Milwaukee Ave. caused me to opt for Elston a couple of blocks north. Elston ends at Milwaukee Ave. just south of Devon. All told, it took about 30 minutes to get home from Central and the Expressway.

Alternate No. 2: Take Kennedy past the junction to Harlem Ave. Take Harlem north into Glenview, where it becomes Lehigh.

Result: The idea of this route was to bypass the stoplights on Milwaukee (or Elston), and to avoid the construction on Caldwell and Waukegan Rd. The problem was that you drive through residential areas with more stop signs, lower speed limits, etc. Also, the intersection of Glenview Rd. and Lehigh was a little rough because of an arriving Metra train. Timing’s everything.

Alternate No. 3: Take Lake Shore Drive to Hollywood, to Ridge and then to Peterson, which becomes Caldwell, which spills onto Waukegan Rd.

Result: Lake Shore Drive to Peterson isn’t an awful idea, but you’ll hit more than 20 stoplights between Hollywood and the Peterson entrance ramp of the Edens. After that, I have 20-plus more lights before I get home. If the stoplights are aligned, great. If not, not great.

Alternate No. 4: Lake Shore Drive to Sheridan, to Isabella, to Green Bay Road, to Wilmette Rd., to Illinois Rd., to Hibbard Rd., to Winnetka Rd., to Sunset Ridge Rd., to Willow Rd.

Result: This is probably the most direct route in terms of mileage, and it really is a great route to take to or from the lake while bicycling, but let’s count the problems with this route:

  1. Stoplights and left-turns on Sheridan all the way up to the Evanston line are exasperating.
  2. Navigating the curves of Sheridan Rd. through Evanston is scenic, but not quick.
  3. The pedestrian and bicycle traffic around Northwestern will slow you down.
  4. Too many residential streets.

Despite all that, it was only a 45-minute drive home.

Alternate No. 5: Kennedy beyond the Junction to the Tri-State, north to Willow Rd., and back east.

Result: Of course, this is a good way to view some more construction. As luck would have it, there was nighttime construction on the Kennedy that night anyway (so what was I bypassing?), and then I forgot all about the construction on the Tri-State to convert to Touhy Toll Plaza into an “open road” toll plaza. That slowed me down, as did the construction at the Willow Rd. overpass. This route takes me about five or six miles out of my way, as well.

Alternate No. 6: Suck it up and take the Edens.

Result: So far, I’ve lived a charmed life doing this. The inbound construction is pretty much done when I get on at Caldwell, and the outbound construction seems minimal — at least at 9:30 p.m. The sad fact is that no route gets me home more quickly or more efficiently — not even mass transit.

There’s still a chance…

Ready to Go!A baseball team has fallen behind 2-0 in a Best-of-5 baseball postseason series 50 times going into this year. Only seven times has a team rebounded from that deficit to win. So what does that tell us, seeing
that all four division series are 2-0 right now?

There’s a 45 percent chance one or more of the four trailing teams (Yankees, Angels, Phillies and Cubs) will come back to win. My money will be on the Cubs to be that one team. My heart colors that more than my head, I can’t see the Rockies losing twice at home, the Angels look beat, and the Yankees have a 46-year-old pitching tomorrow. The Cubs have a left-hander who is coming off a beautiful outing going today, followed by their ace, followed by Ted Lilly, who will not be as bad as he was Thursday night. The odds also say the Cubs are due to heat up.

It’s not uncommon for one or two players to slump throughout a series. When it’s a big bat in the heart of the order, it can be trouble. Look at Andre Dawson in 1989, Sammy Sosa in 1998, Barry Bonds most years, or Alex Rodriguez this year. However, the Cubs have had five players in a funk: Aramis Ramirez, Derrek Lee, Alfonso Soriano, Cliff Floyd and Jacque Jones. These are five legitimate power threats (ignore Jones’ five HRs this year; his ability to hit the ball out must still be respected). One will break out tonight, and another will break out Sunday. Should the Cubs win today, they get to start their ace against the Diamondbacks at noon (10 am Arizona time). Couple that with the D-backs having to get their team bus up to Wrigley with 40,000 marathoners taking to the street Sunday morning. Should the Cubs win that one, why shouldn’t the Diamondbacks feel a tighter collar going back to Phoenix?