Lake Shore Drive, a main artery for Chicago area traffic, became the site of a massive traffic jam on Tuesday and Wednesday. The problems were due to the blizzard that descended upon the city of Chicago, according to media reports on Wednesday.
Several hundred people have been stranded on the drive, which runs near Lake Michigan. City officials closed down the drive on Wednesday.
Residents slammed the city's response to the blizzard, even though Mayor Richard Daley’s Chief of Staff Ray Orozco apologized for the problems.
“We know that hundreds of people were very inconvenienced, and we apologize for that,” he said in a statement. “While we wanted to get to these people as quickly as possible, we wanted to get to them as safely as possible."
Media photos taken of the drive show piles of snow enveloping an endless line of cars. Gusting winds and white-out conditions have paralyzed the city. The Associated Press reported that between 700 and 900 cars were stranded for hours on Tuesday and Wednesday.
“It was like looking through a milkshake, a vanilla milkshake,” Don Levy, who was stranded on the drive for nine hours, told the ChicagoSun-Times. “It was nuts.” The newspaper also reported that as of Wednesday afternoon there were still around 300 vehicles stuck on the road.
He said that officials told him to stay in his car but he wasn’t buying it. “I figured I’m going to die here. They tell you to stay in your car, and I’m running out of gas,” he told the newspaper.
According to the newspaper, there were other motorists stranded several hours or for just as long as Levy was.
A number of city buses have been rerouted away from the drive, the Chicago Transit Authority said.
The National Weather Service says that the 2,000-mile-long storm stretching across North America is of “historic proportions.” Around Chicago, between 14 and 20 inches of snow have been dumped in the past day.
Chicago is a city that is used to snowstorms but this most recent one is nothing to sneeze at, Accuweather said. It is the third-most severe blizzard in the city’s history “and now ranks third among the greatest snowstorms in Chicago's history,” the report said.
In some places around the city, the high winds created snow drifts as large as seven feet tall.
The last time that the city experienced a snowstorm of this magnitude was in 1967, the weather site added. In that blizzard, 23 inches were dumped in a day.
Chicago Public Schools announced that there was no school on Wednesday, the first time the city has had to call a snow day since 1999.