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New signs coming to downtown Pedway

New signs in the “main stem” of the city’s pedway will make navigating the maze-like system of tunnels a bit easier this winter.

The new signage in the Downtown Pedway will help Chicagoans and tourists make their way around the system of underground tunnels.
New signs in the Pedway will help Chicagoans and tourists make their way around the system of underground tunnels.
City of Chicago

Navigating the labyrinthian Chicago Pedway will soon be a bit easier.

The city of Chicago announced Thursday it’s upgrading the signs in its system of underground tunnels people can use to get around downtown — especially during bad weather.

The new signs are being installed in the Pedway’s “main stem,” which runs under Randolph Street and connects City Hall, Daley Plaza and the Thompson Center to the CTA Blue and Red Lines and Metra’s Millennium Station.

The Chicago Department of Transportation consulted with the Environmental Law & Policy Center and the Chicago Loop Alliance on the improvements.

“The new Pedway signage will help Chicagoans and visitors alike navigate and more easily use the Loop’s underground walkway system that has been an underutilized Chicago asset for too long,” said Howard Learner, ELPC executive director.

The Pedway’s “main stem” is the most heavily travelled segment of the underground tunnel system.
The Pedway’s “main stem” is the most heavily traveled segment of the underground tunnel system.
Chicago Department of Transportation

Downtown Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) said new Pedway signs are “nice” but what’s more important is security — both private security guards and Chicago police officers.

“With the Pedway being closed for the length of time that it was, the crowds are going to take some time to return. In the meantime, people may not feel safe in a semi-deserted pedway,” Hopkins told the Chicago Sun-Times.

“We need additional security. We need additional patrols. We’re going to need caseworkers from Family and Support Services to do interventions with people who try to live in the Pedway because that’s currently happening. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done to make the Pedway live up to its promise as a means for people to traverse the city during inclement weather.”

The entire Pedway is a network of below-ground tunnels and overhead bridges that span over 40 blocks and connect 50 buildings, providing a weather-protected pedestrian connection throughout much of the Loop’s Central Business District. The main stem is the system’s most traveled section.

The sign upgrades come at a time when Chicagoans are getting back in the groove of using the Pedway. It was closed last winter due to COVID-19 concerns but reopened this summer. Before the pandemic, tens of thousands of people used the system daily, the city said.

The city is also working on ways to improve the overall experience throughout the Pedway, including the addition of art installations and performances along the route.

“This initiative, plus lively new mural art and future improvements will attract more people to use the Pedway as a connector between CTA, Metra trains and Loop offices and businesses — just in time for winter,” Learner said.

Contributing: Fran Spielman