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Circle interchange reconstruction brings tangle of emotions for workers, residents

Ann Brodley West Loop resident joins other protesters opposed flyover ramp that's part Circle Interchange project. TinSfondeles~Sun-Times

Ann Brodley, a West Loop resident, joins other protesters opposed to the flyover ramp that's part of the Circle Interchange project. Tina Sfondeles~Sun-Times

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Updated: July 30, 2013 8:39AM

A last chance to voice concerns over Circle Interchange construction in the West Loop and Greektown became a rally cry for union construction workers, stressing support for the 5,000 jobs to be created by the massive four-year project.

But there were sprinkles of dissent at Thursday night’s Illinois Department of Transportation public hearing. An hour earlier, two of the speakers stood with at least 20 others under the Greektown columns at Van Buren and Halsted streets as rains soaked the area, holding signs that read “No Flyover,” and “Save Our Neighborhood.”

The group objects to a proposed plan that would create a flyover ramp — two lanes and two shoulders — above Halsted Street to get drivers from the northbound Dan Ryan Expy. to the westbound Eisenhower.

Ann Brodley, 79, has lived in her West Loop building on Sangamon Street for more than 25 years.

“The highway will be moved 30 feet closer to my building and I face the South Side so I will be practically on the highway,” Brodley said while carrying a sign that read “Mayor Rahm, No Flyover.” “. . . The cars will be going through my bedroom practically. That’s not good.”

Another West Loop resident, Jennifer Powers, said she supports job creation but worries about the division the bridge might create: “I believe it will stop students from coming to Greektown. I love the small businesses that are in that area. I don’t want a commercial area, because small businesses cannot survive when the economy goes down in the city.”

Tony Ballay of the Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters said the project will help connect intermodal transportation in the area, helping ease congestion and create jobs.

“We’re going to have a lot of carpenters, ironworkers, bricklayers, laborers, electricians — a lot of work here [for the $420 million reconstruction],” Ballay said. “ . . . It’s going to be one of the things that will [move] Chicago forward even more.”

The plan ultimately is to ease traffic by expanding capacity on the ramps that form the circle-shaped interchange where the Eisenhower Expy. meets the Dan Ryan and Kennedy expressways downtown. Engineers say the work will reduce crashes and congestion for the outdated interchange, rated one of the worst bottlenecks in the country.

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