Survival Skills

There’s a saying about how Chicago has only two seasons, winter and construction*.

My little corner of my western suburb has been experiencing construction year-round for nearly two years now (even through the winter months), thanks to a gutting and extensive reconstruction of a major state route that happens to be one of the few roads that runs through my entire town from all the way north to all the way south. By the way, that state route happens to border my subdivision. The city planners back in the day had absolutely no idea that eventually Naperville would be the fifth largest (by population) city in Illinois and naturally, didn’t plan accordingly for traffic flow.

And now, we pay.

Dealing with construction is never fun, especially in an area that was always clogged with traffic anyway. Sometimes I laugh to myself at how silly we used to be, being aggravated that we had to leave the subdivision via two other options in order to avoid the state route going north during morning rush hour and going south during evening rush hour. We were adorable back then, only having to reroute ourselves twice a day. And we had options!

Now, and for the past two years? We are SURROUNDED by construction and in a constant struggle to reroute ourselves. Not only is the state route under construction, but the other two options that used to save our sanity? Are ALSO under construction. We can’t win. Ever.

We find ourselves zipping through business parking lots and cutting down side streets that zig-zag us through our side of town to avoid the construction at all costs, because the delays otherwise are brutal. Sometimes I’ll choose one of the back ways so I can run to Walgreen’s really quick, and then the curse words fly because I forgot that they just took that road down to one lane the other day and I’m going to be stuck trying to turn left at the light for thirty minutes.

Speaking of delays, getting out of the subdivision through the main entrance/exit is a joke. The light only lets two cars go through at a time before it flashes back to red, and if people on the state route are blocking the intersection (jerks!), forget it.

The good news is, it’s supposed to end eventually.

The bad news is two-fold:
Number one, we have about another year to go on this major project.
Number two, I honestly don’t believe it will end when it’s supposed to, or ever. We are beaten down by this construction. We’re so tired of it. I think we will be surrounded by construction until the end of time. Always and forever.

Luckily, just like people who get stranded on a desert island or in the wilderness with nothing to keep them alive but their own imagination and puzzle-solving skills, we figure out ways to get through.

Someone in the subdivision figured out that if a pedestrian is at the intersection of our neighborhood and the state route and then presses the button for the crosswalk, WE GET A LONG GREEN LIGHT.

I mean really. WHAT?

It’s true.

So in the spirit of survival, folks who live in my neighborhood are jumping out of their cars, running through cones and construction junk to the light pole, pressing that button, and running back to their cars. Someone even made a sign for the newbies. You’re welcome, people who are trying to cut through our hood to avoid construction. Also, high five to my neighborhood peeps!

Long green

You may not think this is an act of extreme desperation, but then again you probably don’t live here. We do what we need to do to survive (and get where we need to go in a reasonable time).

*Of course, that’s not entirely true. We really do experience spring, summer, fall, and winter (varying lengths and extremes for each one every year though!); it’s just that NORMALLY, the bulldozers and traffic cones come out just as soon as winter is over. Except for right here, right now, and all year long. Ugh.


  • Momo

    When I visited in May, it was HELL to know I was *this close* to your house, but had to sit on the exit ramp for an extra 20 minutes because of the construction. Oh, and we have a light near our house that turns green faster if you press the crosswalk button, so drivers do the same thing!

    • Melisa Wells

      I don’t even use that exit anymore. I forgot to mention that part: they’ve ripped it apart to make a completely new interchange that only exists in one other city AND is apparently a hot mess for its current users. Our exit is still accessible but I use either the one before it or the one after it. UGH.

  • Kari

    The Universe is telling you to stay at home and pet your sweet doggie.
    Or Roxy is controlling the traffic situation!
    I need to get out more…….

  • Dawndi

    I294 has been under construction from at least 1991 until and including now. What is up with that? I hate traffic and construction.

  • Natasha

    The things we do to avoid construction traffic. It was clever to figure out that button thing. I bet it’s hilarious seeing people jump out of cars and sprint through obstacles to push the button. Teamwork!

  • Heidi Sloss

    I love the image of drivers jumping or of their cars and hitting the crosswalk button! I have no patience for what your are all going through. Good luck! Maybe time to have a posse of neighbors take over the town council/city hall?