CHICAGO (CBS) – The second phase of Wacker Drive reconstruction begins Monday, and several streets are already closed.
As CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli reports, that will be the case for the next year.
Small sections of Washington and Randolph streets will also be closed, between Canal and Wells streets.
The project is part of the city’s Revive Wacker Drive overhaul. Chicago Department of Transportation Commissioner Bobby Ware last week said the project would result in “a more efficient, safer roadway.”
But for the next year, it will be a mess. The three phase project started last June when a portion of lower Wacker Drive was closed in order to redo the Congress Parkway interchange that leads to the Eisenhower Expressway.
That project continues but now the second phase of the overhaul begins, with reconstruction between Randolph and Monroe streets.
For motorists who are wondering what the project will mean for their commute, Ware says, “I’d say prepare for a bit of a challenge.”
As part of the plan, both the upper and lower portions of Wacker drive will be rebuilt between Randolph to the north and Monroe to the south. The street will be widened, beautified and lit more efficiently.
But if you’ve been using the north-south portion of Wacker Drive, now you’ll have to use Franklin Street, which will be converted to a two way street until the project is completed. Department of Transportation officials expect a few bumps initially as motorists get used to the changes.
“It’ll be okay if you wait a week or so,” Ware said.
The closure of north-south Lower Wacker Drive has already made for frustration for commuters who use it as a shortcut from Lake Shore Drive to the Eisenhower. Lower Wacker Drive closed around the same time as a major reconstruction project shut down lanes on the Eisenhower and over the Congress Parkway bridge.
The current infrastructure of North-south Wacker Drive was built in the 1950s, and is in need of a complete reconstruction, CDOT has said.
A double-decker road along the Chicago River was part of Daniel Burnham’s 1909 Plan for Chicago. The east-west Wacker Drive was completed in 1926, replacing River Street and most of South Water Street, while the north-south leg was finished in 1954, replacing Market Street.