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Residents, motorists brace for headaches as Lollapalooza prep starts

Construction for Lollapalooza, which starts on Aug. 3, has already begun at Grant Park on Thursday, July 27, 2017. | Michelle Kanaar/For the Sun-Times

Fate Sivac takes South Lake Shore Drive to commute to and from work everyday.

This week, thanks to the city’s preparation for Lollapalooza, she’s found herself sitting in traffic more, worried about her commute when streets will be closed and the festival will be in full swing.

And the start of the popular music event is still about a week away.

“I’m stuck in traffic in the morning and then, when I get here, half the streets are blocked,” said Sivac, who manages a condo on Michigan Avenue.

Construction for Lollapalooza, which starts on Aug. 3, has already begun at Grant Park on Thursday, July 27, 2017. | Michelle Kanaar/For the Sun-Times

Lollapalooza may be held from Aug. 3 to Aug. 6, but preparation for the city’s biggest music festival means parts of Grant Park are already sectioned off — blockades that will direct the flow of foot traffic for the festival are taking up large swaths of grass along Michigan Avenue near the park.

The festival is expected to bring around 400,000 people to Grant Park over the course of its four-day run, according to Lollapalooza spokeswoman Brittany Pearce.

Sections of South Columbus Drive, East Balbo Drive, East Congress Parkway, East Jackson Drive and South Lake Shore Drive had partial closures starting on July 19.

Gretchen Frickx, who works at the Harrington College of Design on Michigan Avenue, doesn’t understand the need to start closing streets and sections so early.

“I’m not sure why they do it two weeks in advance, but it’s annoying, because you can’t access the park which is kind of a drag,” she said. “I know I won’t walk this way at all next week.”

Elaine Soble said that the city should find a neutral site for mega festivals like Lollapalooza or spread out the “benefits and burdens” of the big festivals that come to Grant Park every year.

“Why shouldn’t other neighborhoods get the benefits (of these festivals),” said Soble a co-founder of Keep Grant Green, which focuses on preventing the overuse of Grant Park to protect its green space.

“It’s supposed to be a park and while people understand that summer brings event after event, it’s supposed to be a restful oasis for the city.”

Construction for Lollapalooza, which starts on Aug. 3, has already begun at Grant Park on Thursday, July 27, 2017. | Michelle Kanaar/For the Sun-Times

 

While Frickx may have to sacrifice her lunchtime walks, she said that the closures come with the living and working in the city.

“At the end of the day you live in the city to be close to stuff, it’s kind of like paying taxes,” Frickx said.

“You pay to get better roads and schools. If this is the ‘tax’ I pay, I guess it’s not a bad deal.”