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Trucks Keep Getting Stuck Under Lake Street Green Line Tracks On West Side, As Calls Mount For Warning Signs And A Fix

CHICAGO (CBS) -- For some truck drivers, all they can do is guess and hope they are able to make it under the Chicago Transit Authority Green Line viaduct over Lake Street on the city's West Side.

But some drivers end up getting stuck, and blocking traffic for hours.

CBS 2's Jackie Kostek did a little digging Friday, and found what some say could even be a quick fix for a longstanding problem.

"A mild earthquake," said building manager Lucius Merriweather.

That is how Merriweather describes what it feels like when a semi-trailer truck barreling down Lake Street got stuck under the CTA Green Line.

"I've been here for 48 years," Merriweather said. "I've seen hundreds of trucks (get stuck) since I've been here."

Roger Romanelli runs the Fulton Market Association and heads up the Westside Infrastructure Coalition.

"This Lake Street is the most dangerous and deadly street in Chicago," Romanelli said.

He estimates at least 30 trucks have gotten stuck since last summer.

"We cannot be the best city in the world if trucks from across America are getting trapped like rats - and ripped apart like children's toys - under this Lake Street structure," Romanelli said.

Romanelli's focus is on the stretch of Lake Street from Talman Avenue and the Union Pacific Railroad tracks west to Laramie Avenue – a distance of more than three miles.

He describes that stretch as a rollercoaster, with clearance changes truck drivers don't see coming, and columns that make it difficult for drivers and pedestrians to see each other.

While the Fulton Market Association most wants to see real infrastructure dollars invested in updating the CTA structure, they say in the meantime, more clearance height signs are needed to warn drivers who are turning onto Lake Street.

The association said the need for those signs is urgent, after two trucks got stuck today.

It's not just the semis getting damaged though. Merriweather says businesses along Lake Street are too, because drivers don't want to risk their truck to make a delivery.

"They don't want to come because they always hit the pillar all the time," Merriweather said.

As for whether the West Side will see smoother roads anytime soon, Romanelli says the coalition has presented the city with their concerns at least ten times - including on a conference call in late August. The Chicago Department of Transportation conducted a survey, which led to new clearance signs being installed for northbound and southbound traffic at four main streets that intersect Lake Street.

Romanelli says that's not enough.

"We've asked the mayor for basic signage that every other community has. We're out of signs," Romanelli said. "What is Mayor Lightfoot doing?"

While they wait for more help, many drivers are too.

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