Chicago continues to battle graffiti along expressways

If you think Chicago’s graffiti problem is getting worse, you’re not alone. 

And it’s especially bad on Chicago expressways.

A Chicago alderman and community activists say all that graffiti is an embarrassment to the city, and someone needs to clean it up.

Take a ride along Chicago’s expressways, and you won’t have to look hard to see the problem.

Graffiti is everywhere. 

On walls, bridge supports, barricades and in places that seem impossible to reach.

It’s especially bad on the Jane Byrne interchange, where construction zones have created open space for taggers.


Which is why a group of community activists gathered downtown Monday, demanding that it be cleaned up. 

"How do you feel when you go to the Jane Byrne interchange, and you see all of this graffiti, and it’s just sitting there. It’s ridiculous," said Michael Lafargue, who works as a realtor.

Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th) has been tweeting about the expressway graffiti and said it sends a bad message to Chicago visitors and residents alike.

"That sets a very negative perception of our city. It doesn’t show that we’re welcome and clean and open for business. It has a very negative impact on how people view our city," said Lopez.

Because the expressways are on state property, it’s the Illinois Department of Transportation that’s responsible for removing the graffiti. 

And IDOT spokeswoman Maria Castaneda admits they’ve had trouble keeping up with all the taggers. 

"It’s definitely an ongoing problem," said Castaneda.

Castaneda said cleanup crews usually go out on holiday weekends to remove graffiti, because there’s more time and less traffic. It’s a dangerous job.

But they couldn’t do it over Presidents’ Day weekend because a snowstorm put them in plows instead.  

Castaneda said the taggers are more aggressive than ever, often hitting again hours after graffiti has been erased. 

"As soon as we remove that graffiti, within days, in fact some have seen on the same night…the graffiti artist putting up graffiti as they are removing it," said Castaneda.

Lopez said city neighborhoods are also seeing an explosion of graffiti.

"It just seems to be everywhere. And there doesn’t seem to be a policy in the city of Chicago to cohesively address this issue," said Lopez.