No place to turn around in Chicago

Wesley Mikel | January 26, 2013

Editor’s note: This story submission earned Wesley Mikel second place in Overdrive‘s GPS contest giveaway in December 2012. Entrants were asked to describe their worst experience getting lost or finding directions on a haul. Overdrive editors ranked their favorites.

I was delivering a load in downtown Chicago for a morning delivery. The delivery route I took into downtown had a lot of 13-foot-6-inch bridges, but I was able to pass under all of them safely. I got to my delivery address and got unloaded.

As I was leaving, I noticed that there was a 13-foot bridge sign where I was supposed to turn to get onto the freeway. Where that bridge was was the same way I came in but since the sign said 13 feet I wondered if maybe the bridge was lower on this side since the bridge looked like it angled down. Since I was blocking traffic I decided to not make the turn and go through the light and pull over in a wide spot. I called my company, and they tried to help me find another route to the freeway using their computer mapping software.

Well, they just made things worse and got me stuck on a restricted truck road with no way to turn around. So I pulled over and decided to call Chicago’s street and signs department to see if they could help. They informed me that the 13-foot sign where I was supposed to turn was supposed to be a 13-foot-6-inch sign and had I turned there I would’ve been able to pass under the bridge.

That info would’ve been helpful earlier, but now I can’t turn around to go back to that street. So they end up giving me directions to Lake Shore Drive and to go to another street to turn around. Well, I end up on a two-lane street with cars parked on both sides stuck at an 11-foot-6-inch bridge and no way to turn around and blocking traffic. I end up sitting there for four hours trying to find a way to turn around. Since no one could help me I ended up having to call the police. The police officer arrived about 30 minutes later and advised me I was on a restricted truck route. Lol, how could things possibly get any worse?

Well, they did. The officer decided to block the traffic so I could U-turn in the middle of this small intersection. I ended up having to drive onto the sidewalk and try to make a U-turn. I had to back up so I could get around a light pole with the front end of my truck. As the officer waved me back I backed into another light pole across the street with my trailer knocking it over. At this point, I was tired, frustrated, the officer was yelling at me and cars were honking and yelling at me. The police were so frustrated he told me to just get out of there and leave. So after almost six hours I got back to the freeway.

This was my worst experience getting lost. The only good thing that came out of this is that the police felt so sorry for me that I ended up not getting any tickets.

  • Albert

    I also want to send you award – a steering wheel, so you can hold it

  • Local Charles

    I drive specificly in the city of Chicago and the first decicon should have to ask a local p and d driver,or a local company driver they will stop and give “GOOD” directions to anyone who asks

  • Andrea Sitler

    Hey, some bad decisions were made here but Overdrive did ask for the WORSE story. Let’s not rip this guy apart but hope he and anyone reading this learn from his story as well as the comments.

  • Bradley D Coddington

    Chicago is a lot better now than what it was 20 years ago when I first started driving most of the bridges are dug out now and you can actually get around now with out too much trouble

  • kiko kika

    you lucky you are in chicago in california you might just think to call a piglet you already got the ticket

  • mousekiller

    I put 13 + years in Chicago and suburbs as a local driver and back then ( 60’s to 75) it was not easy. Not only did you have to look for low underpasses but the L tracks too. Getting under Ravenswood Ave and Lake street was a nightmare for new drivers. You either learned and kept notes or you peeled a roof and went job hunting. The one thing it did for me was to teach me to be aware and observant and today I use what I learned being a city driver. By the way,Chicago has a special phone number just for truckers to get around the low underpasses.

  • mousekiller

    Here is a tip that works every time. Call the 911 NON emergency number. Tell them your problem and THEY WILL see that you get help. Doubtful you get a ticket if you call first. I have done it many times. My cousin is a 911 supervisor and she said that it is cheaper and easier and safer to send an officer or street employee to escort or protect you than repair the damage after the fact. strives to maintain an open forum for reader opinions. Click here to read our comment policy.