NASCAR Chicago Street Race to close downtown roads again this summer

NASCAR Chicago Street Race to close downtown roads again this summer

The NASCAR Chicago Street Race is returning in July, and that means major roads in and around Grant Park will once again be closed for weeks during the busy summer months.

A plan made public Wednesday by the city shows streets will begin closing June 10, nearly a month before the race the weekend of July 6 and 7, to allow for setup. The closures will eventually include major roads like DuSable Lake Shore Drive and Michigan Avenue, before all roads fully reopen by July 18.

This summer marks the second year of the NASCAR Chicago Street Race. A study released by the city’s tourism arm showed that last year, the race generated nearly $109 million in economic impact, less than the $113.8 million NASCAR initially projected. The city spent more than $3.5 million in overtime and construction costs for the race, including road improvements and overtime for policy and emergency management workers.

This year, NASCAR expected to pay more to the city, including a verbal agreement to chip in $2 million more for the race, the Tribune has reported.

Last year’s long setup time drew criticism, prompting NASCAR to say it would reduce setup and takedown time this year by six days. City officials said this year building and taking down the main parts of the course, and the closure of major roads needed to do so, would take 19 days, compared with 25 days last year.

The closures will begin this year with Ida B. Wells Drive east of Michigan Avenue. A westbound section of the road between Congress Circle and Michigan will remain open.

Other temporary closures and lane closures will take place later in June and July, and roads will begin fully closing in the park June 27.

Roosevelt Road will close along the south edge of the park beginning the night of July 4, as will northbound Michigan Avenue south of the Art Institute.

The day before the race, DuSable Lake Shore Drive will fully close from Randolph Street to McFetridge Drive, the full length of Millennium Park, Grant Park and the Museum Campus. Southbound Michigan Avenue will also close along the park. By the weekend of the race, most major roads through Grant Park will be closed.

After the race weekend, streets will remain closed as the course is taken down, but are expected to begin opening Monday, July 8. That includes the northbound lanes of DuSable Lake Shore Drive, which will begin reopening at 6 a.m.

The lakefront thoroughfare, Michigan Avenue and Columbus Drive are priorities to reopen after the race, city officials said.

All streets are expected to reopen by July 18.

City officials said the Museum Campus would remain accessible despite the road closures, though once DuSable Lake Shore Drive is closed drivers will have to either exit at 31st Street and take Fort Dearborn Drive, if arriving from the south, or take I-55 to Lake Shore Drive and exit at 18th Street. The Lakefront Trail and an underpass through the park will remain open, they said.

Officials also said more than half of Grant Park will remain open to the public during the street race, and there would be “minimal restrictions” to park destinations like Buckingham Fountain, Butler Field and Lower Hutchinson Field.

Businesses and homes downtown will remain accessible during the event, city officials said. Sidewalks along the west side of Michigan Avenue will remain open, and NASCAR was working with residential buildings in the area to ensure accessibility.

City officials encouraged visitors to downtown to use CTA or Metra. Both plan to run extra service for the race, though last summer the street closures also forced reroutes of several CTA buses.