Mexican Independence Day Chicago: Street closures possible if celebrations get out of hand downtown

Mexican Independence Day regularly draws thousands of revelers into the streets of Chicago, but city officials said they are prepared to limit access to downtown if needed to avoid chaotic gridlock.

In recent years the downtown gridlock has become as regularly a part of the celebrations as dancing, food and music. The party goes on for hours with police unable to direct traffic.

Last year a caravan of revelers brought downtown to a standstill, shooting off fireworks and line dancing in the street. Police said the two night party was marred by gunfire, and many couldn’t get home, get to work or get help.

“We actually had a resident who’d gone into labor during the festivities, and she had a substantial amount of difficulty getting to Northwestern,” said James Wales of South Loop Neighbors.

South Loop Neighbors held a meeting with Chicago police two weeks ago about plans to limit traffic if celebrations got out of hand.

“Yesterday they distributed the twelve different access points that, if that plan goes into effect, there’ll be twelve points where people will be able to come in and out if they live here,” Wales said.

The Office of Emergency Management and Communications said for now there are no planned street closures, but as in the past for busy weekends, equipment will be in place if closures are needed.

Illinois State Police and Chicago police are prepared to close downtown expressway entrances and restrict access to the area bordered by Division Street, DuSable Lake Shore Drive, 18th Street and Halsted.

There will be multiple access points on those streets for residents, workers and others to enter the central business district.