residents who or drive to work in downtown Chicago should be prepared for delays while world leaders convene for the 2012 NATO summit at McCormick Place from May 20 to May 21.
For the first time the North Atlantic Treaty Organization will be holding a summit in an American city other than Washington, D.C. In addition to global leaders, more than 2,000 journalists and countless demonstrators and activists are expected to inundate the Chicago region.
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To help you navigate your way around the NATO summit, here’s some helpful information on mass transit schedules and road closures. Plan ahead!
Metra Southwest Service and Rock Island Lines
At this time, Metra is not planning to close any of its system-wide rail lines during the week of May 13 through May 21, except for the Electric Line (more on that below). The and Rock Island lines are expected to operate on their regular schedules, but Metra is advising riders to anticipate delays.
While service is scheduled to remain the same, Metra riders taking the train between May 19 and May 21 will be subject to enhanced security restrictions, similar to airports.
According to Metra:
- Riders may be subject to search and/or screening before boarding or while en route.
- Riders may carry only one bag not exceeding 15 inches square and 4 inches deep. Boxes, parcels, luggage, backpacks and bicycles will not be allowed on trains. Banned items cannot be stored at Metra stations. They must be removed or they will be disposed of.
- Riders may not carry any food on the trains. Liquids and personal effects (such as makeup) must be less than three ounces in size. This includes coffee and other beverages. Breast milk can be carried but is subject to inspection and should be declared during any screening.
- Riders may not carry any type of tools, pipes, stakes, wood or weapons, including pocket knives and pepper spray, on the trains.
- Law enforcement personnel must identify themselves and present their credentials and any weapons. Security guards will not be allowed to carry any weapons onboard.
Failure to comply with these safety measures or instructions from law enforcement personnel, or attempted avoidance of screening, will result in ejection from the station or further police action.
Metra Electric Line Service
The Metra Electric line will be not be making its all of its usual stops from May 19 to May 21. The line passes under the McCormick Place, so passengers will therefore undergo even greater security scrutiny than on other lines.
Passengers are encouraged to arrive about 15 minutes prior to departing to allow for longer boarding time.
The South Water Street entrance to Millenium will be closed all three days.
CTA Bus/Rail will remain in operation during the week leading up to and throughout the NATO summit, but be prepared for rerouting of buses and trains, and possible delays. If you take the CTA Orange line to work or school, sign up to receive CTA email and text alerts.
Portions of I-55 (Stevenson Expressway) and Lake Shore Drive will be shut down during the summit. Other roads and interstate highways may also experience intermittent traffic delays during the week of May 13 through May 21.
Beginning Saturday, May 19, until Monday, May 21, expect intermittent traffic delays and temporary road and interstate closures and throughout downtown Chicago for motorcades traveling to and from McCormick Place and other event sites.
If you need to use the regional expressway system to get to work, school or other cultural events, affected routes include:
- I-90/94 East and West between downtown Chicago and I-55;
- Roosevelt Road, 18th Street, and Canal Port Avenue access from I-94 West (Dan Ryan Expressway);
- Ohio Street from I-90/94 to Fairbanks Court/Columbus Drive;
- Ontario Street from Fairbanks Court/Columbus Drive;
- I-90 East and West (Kennedy Expressway) between O’Hare International Airport and downtown Chicago.
Saturday, May 19 through Monday, May 21
Other road closures and pedestrian restrictions will be implemented beginning midnight Saturday, May 19 (Friday midnight into Saturday). Affected roadways below will re-open for evening rush hour on Monday, May 21:
- Northbound and southbound Lake Shore Drive between E. Balbo Avenue and E 39th Street;
- Northbound and southbound I-55 between I-90/94 to Lake Shore Drive.
If you were planning to visit the Art Institute, Adler Planetarium and Shedd Aquarium—all three will be closed the weekend of May 19-21 for the NATO Summit. The Field Museum will remain open.
Chicago 2012 NATO Summit
To follow the summit, information on events open to the public and other NATO facts, visit the official Chicago 2012 NATO website.