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Bensenville urges swift reopening of Irving Park Road near O’Hare

Bensenville officials Tuesday urged the state to end the closure of Irving Park Road in the western suburb by Memorial Day, saying this week’s abrupt four-month closure could hobble business during a key part of the year.

The Illinois Department of Transportation announced Monday just before 7 p.m. that 1 mile of Irving Park Road just went of O’Hare International Airport was being closed immediately for four months, because of work on an $18.5 million bridge.

The bridge will eventually carry Canadian Pacific trains over Irving Park Road. It has been constructed, but tracks and signals still need to be installed, street-level tracks need to be removed and Irving Park Road under the bridge must be lowered to give trucks their needed level of clearance.

IDOT had hoped to close the road only to trucks during current work, but within about 24 hours, 15 trucks had ignored detour signs and hit the bridge, spokeswoman Carson Quinn said. At least two got wedged under the bridge, with part of the trucks sprawled over active Canadian Pacific railroad tracks that carry 25 trains a day, Quinn said.

Bensenville Assistant Village Manager Dan Di Santo said IDOT warned the village last week that if any trucks ignored the detours and hit the bridge, IDOT would shut down Irving Park to both truck and car traffic.

“They didn’t even make it 24 hours,” Di Santo said Tuesday. “It’s disturbing to our businesses, our residents, but it’s not surprising that the state would close down the intersection because trucks are not abiding by the detours.”

Now that Irving Park is closed to all traffic, Di Santo said Bensenville is urging IDOT to complete its work in about two months, by Memorial Day, instead of four months. Before the stream of truck accidents, Di Santo said, IDOT officials had planned to lower Irving Park Road while allowing cars to travel on it using fewer lanes.

The affected section of Irving Park Road — between York Road and the South Access Road to O’Hare’s cargo area — is used by hundreds —perhaps thousands — of trucks a day that travel from a Bensenville industrial park to O’Hare, Di Santo said. Businesses up and down Irving Park also are affected by the road’s closure.

“We’d like open driving to O’Hare and Bensenville by Memorial Day weekend to start the summer right,” Di Santo said.

Quinn was not optimistic Tuesday, saying Canadian Pacific Railway had multiple weeks of work to do on the bridge before the roadway could be lowered. But Quinn said, “The department will work to open the roadway as quickly as possible.”

One Bensenville businessman said some customers will now have to take a 12-mile detour to reach his store, Carpet and Mattress Town, at 480 W. Irving Park Road in Bensenville.

“My sales are going to drop about 50 percent for the months that this is going on, which is our highest sales time of the year,” owner Arthur Greenstein said.

“They had a total disregard for business owners on Irving Park Road by doing what they did,” Greenstein said. ”Give trucks a detour, but there’s no reason to stop cars.”

Di Santo said gain will follow the pain.

“Our businesses will greatly benefit once this is done, but these next couple of months will be very difficult,” he said.

Two detours will be posted while construction takes place:

  • Eastbound traffic along Irving Park will turn north onto York, then east on Touhy Avenue, east onto Higgins Road and then south on Mannheim Road.
  • Westbound traffic will turn north on Mannheim, then west on Higgins and south on York, IDOT said.