Beware: Kennedy Expressway may be anything but this weekend
BY TINA SFONDELES Staff Reporter June 19, 2014 3:34PM
The Illinois Department of Transportation began demolition work on the Ontario Street Bridge late Friday night in a process that will snarl traffic for the next three weekends on I90/94. Saturday, June 14, 2014 | Brian Jackson/ Sun-Times
Updated: July 21, 2014 3:59PM
Chicagoans may have survived — or avoided — the so-called “Carmageddon” last weekend, but drivers are again being advised to take other routes, or expect delays this weekend on the Kennedy Expressway.
The massive undertaking — a $16.5 million construction project — is being done to replace the 55-year-old Ohio Street Bridge, just north of the Loop.
As it has for weeks, the Illinois Department of Transportation strongly suggested finding a different route into the Loop or using public transit.
“The city of Chicago is open for business and we’re asking the public to plan ahead and use public transportation if possible, as this weekend’s traffic configuration has the potential to cause many more traffic impacts than last weekend,” Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann L. Schneider said in a prepared statement.
Drivers heading from the South Side into the city will be hardest hit this weekend. Crews will work on the northbound lanes into the Loop, and as they cross the Congress Expressway five lanes of traffic will shrink to two. After that, there’s a complicated detour that starts with motorists exiting at Ohio Street, down to Orleans and looping them around and back onto the expressway, according to IDOT.
The following ramps also will be closed: Ontario Street feeder and the entrance ramps onto the Kennedy, from Jackson Boulevard to Randolph Street.
No inbound lanes will be affected.
The work will begin Friday at 10 p.m. and will run until 5 a.m. Monday, just in time for the morning rush.
The original plan was to complete construction within three weekends. But crews expedited that process last weekend, and were able to complete the originally planned third weekend of work on the Ohio Street ramp. That means the project will be over come Monday, officials say.
State transportation officials are calling this weekend’s work “more involved” and are recommending drivers take alternate routes, like Lake Shore Drive, the Stevenson Expressway or the Eisenhower Expressway. Public transportation is also being encouraged.
Drivers were warned for weeks that the work would cause massive traffic backups. And it appeared drivers listened last weekend. Traffic volume on the inbound Kennedy was about a third less than on a typical June weekend.
Chicago’s Pride Fest is expected to draw crowds to the North Side this weekend.