Friday, April 25, 2008

US 20 in Ohio: The 25th Annual Louie Run

What’s the Louie Run? Any serious biker in the Midwest is probably familiar with this annual motorcycle ride, which serves as the unofficial opening of the motorcycle season in northeast Ohio. It also is an event to benefit charity. Up to 10,000 bikers have participated in this ride, and I believe that to be true because one year I got stopped in traffic by the passing motorcycles, and I think I saw every one of those 10,000 bikers as I sat stuck there almost an hour. It really is a sight to see - and hear.

Here’s some background on the Louie Run, from the official Louie Run web site,

"Just two short decades ago, a handful of local bikers rode together to the cemetery to pay tribute to a lost friend, Louie Ivcovic. Louie was a local businessman who owned the Peppermint Stick Lounge, and he had given the bikers a place where they could meet, relax, and enjoy the company of fellow motorcyclists. At a time when most businesses were turning bikers away, Louie put out the welcome mat and gave them a home.

Louie had welcomed them into his life, and now those bikers felt compelled to nurture his memory and keep Louie alive in their hearts. The group agreed to return the following year and never let the memory, or the man, be forgotten.

As the years went by, more friends joined in the memorial ride, and unfortunately, more friends had been lost. From these humble beginnings, the Louie Run was born. It didn’t take long before the gathering grew into an event, with sheer numbers creating logistical difficulties, but the Peppermint Stick Alumni rose to the challenge by organizing and coordinating what had become one of Northeast Ohio’s premier rides."

This year the Louie Run begins its trek Sunday, May 4, at the Lake County Fairgrounds, 1301 Mentor Avenue (US Route 20), Painesville, Ohio. Gates will open at 9 am and tickets are available at most area motorcycle businesses, or $10 at the gate. Proceeds from the Louie Run benefit local charities. The Louie Run Foundation has donated over $250,000 to numerous charitable institutions in Northeast Ohio. The event also includes live music, bike games, tattoo competition, and a variety of vendors. For more information, visit the Louie Run web site.

The US Route 20 Blog homepage can be found here.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

US 20 in Illinios: Elgin Construction

Image from The Daily Herald

Drivers using US Route 20 in Elgin, Illinois should prepare to deal with a mess. The Courier-News reports that US 20 and Shales Parkway will be undergoing a facelift. But, I think the story may have changed a bit since it was first released, as I just read today that a writer for The Daily Herald says “Because of a lack of a state capital budget, work on one of Elgin's most dangerous intersections will be put off for another year. Yes, Route 20 will still be a mess due to retaining wall work and bridge work over the EJ&E railway. But the most important need, reconstruction of the Route 20 intersection with Shales Parkway, has been bumped for at least another year. Meaning the city can expect its ambulances to continue making frequent visits to one of its least safe intersections.”

So if you’re planning a drive through that area, be aware that you may face construction delays or cautious driving conditions.

Shales, US 20 in for facelift

March 22, 2008

ELGIN -- Blinking signs at Shales Parkway and U.S. 20 warn motorists of long-awaited improvements coming to the dangerous, and sometimes deadly, crossroads on the city's far east side.

Two major construction projects loom. The first will begin April 1, weather permitting, said Illinois Department of Transportation spokesman Mike Claffey. The second will start in June and run through the end of construction season.

Starting April 1 continuing through Aug. 31, one lane of U.S. 20 in each direction over the Elgin, Joliet and Eastern Railway east of the intersection will be closed for bridge repairs.

The concrete deck beams will be replaced along with the top of the bridge deck at a cost of $847,000, Claffey said.

"The bridge is deteriorating. If we don't do the rehab we would have to put weight limits on the bridge," he said.

The work is crucial to the safety of the bridge, although it will cause major congestion.

"Obviously it will cause backups in both directions," he said.

In June, IDOT workers will begin a massive $8 million improvement project at the intersection itself. Light signals will be modernized, and the intersection and all turn lanes will be widened.

"That provides additional storage for traffic that's trying to turn," Claffey said.

The changes are aimed at reducing the crash rate at that intersection, he added. Shales and 20 often appears on the Elgin Police Department's list of top 10 accident sites in the city.

Certainly a safer intersection will be appreciated by all motorists -- but getting to that point may prove painful.

"There are no designated alternative routes," Claffey said. "Avoid the area if you possibly can."

If you can't find another route, allow extra time, especially during rush hours.

There are few choices for those driving east or west between Elgin and the Elgin-O'Hare Expressway. To the north, Irving Park Road (Illinois 19) through Streamwood will meet up with the expressway in Schaumburg. To the south, West Bartlett Road, with a quick jog north in Bartlett to East North Avenue, will spill back onto U.S. 20 in Hanover Park.

Elgin Public Works Director John Loete said these much-needed but inconvenient projects are a pain, "but it feels so good when the pain stops."

Shales is not a state roadway, but IDOT workers will still do the work on that road in conjunction with the other repairs.

"At one point, we were going to have to pay a portion of the cost," Loete said, but the state will pick up the tab.

The city will have to relocate a water main that runs along 20 from the northeast corner of the intersection. The state is building a retaining wall there, where the ground drops off near Safety-Kleen Systems, Inc, he said.

Signal improvements at Shales and U.S. 20 have been on IDOT's to-do list for about eight years.

The US Route 20 Blog homepage can be found here.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

US Route 20 and Google Maps “Street View”

A view of Cleveland's Public Square from US 20 Google Maps Street View

It was recently announced that Google Maps has now made their “Street View” available in the Cleveland Ohio metropolitan area. What this means for US Route 20 fans is that one can now travel almost the entire length of US 20 in all of Cuyahoga County, Ohio, which includes downtown Cleveland. (Currently, US 20 (Euclid Avenue) in downtown Cleveland is undergoing a major reconstruction and facelift, which is obvious on many of the views.)

View Larger Map

Google Maps Street View has been available for a while in other major US cities. Another city where US 20 fans may want to make the virtual trip is the city where US 20 begins, Boston, near Kenmore Square.

View Larger Map

So if you’re bored, or if you’re simply looking to check out an area of US Route 20 where you may be planning a trip, check out Google Maps
and see if the Street View is available. A virtual trip down US 20 may help in your plans.

The US Route 20 Blog homepage can be found here.