New construction projects to begin in Chicago

March 8, 2010 3:28:58 PM PST
On April 1, IDOT will begin the two-year rehabilitation of the Congress Parkway bridge over the Chicago River.Other projects will begin at the same time that could create some real traffic headaches.

The 53-year-old Congress bridge over the south branch of the Chicago River is about to get a well-needed face lift. Beginning April 1, dot will close the eastbound side for repairs and shift traffic to the westbound side.

Next year, crews will repair the westbound bridge moving traffic to the new eastbound lanes.

"We will be replacing the grate system, the top of the deck with a closed system so that the water and salt won't rust the steel in the future. We will replace the structural steel on the side of the bridge that you can see," said Jim Patton, IDOT resident engineer and technician.

During the work, traffic will be reduced to only two lanes inbound and only one lane outbound. Imagine the kind of traffic nightmare this could create for traffic on the Eisenhower Expressway.

IDOT is recommending Roosevelt Road or the Warren/Washington corridor between Sacramento and Michigan Avenue to avoid the pinch point at the bridge.

At the same time IDOT begins the Congress bridge project, CDOT will begin the three-year reconstruction of upper and lower Wacker from Randolph to Congress.

This year, crews will be doing utility work on Lower Wacker, which will be open for local traffic only. The ramps to and from Lower Wacker and the Eisenhower will close April 1st for the duration of the project. This could create more congestion on Upper Wacker.

"Through the use of signal timing, through the use of traffic control aides, we're very confident we'll be able to handle this additional traffic volume," said Thomas Powers, acting commissioner, CDOT.

Next year, crews will rebuild Wacker from Randolph to Monroe. In 2012, they'll work from Monroe to Congress. The new design will eliminate most of the ramps between Randolph and Van Buren and add an extra foot of Clearance on lower Wacker. Coordination between these projects is crucial because April 1 is also the start date for the resurfacing of 27 miles of the Eisenhower Expressway.

"A lot of people would say, 'Why are you doing this all at the same time?' and the reason is, if we separated all these projects, we'd be down here for 10 years," said Powers.

By coordinating the projects, all the work instead will be done in three years.