CHICAGO (CBS/WBBM) — Three months into its latest phase, the City of Chicago says the massive Wacker Drive reconstruction project is on schedule and within budget.

As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Regine Schlesinger reports, the Chicago Department of Transportation says the project is moving along rapidly.

The old Upper and Lower Wacker Drive has been demolished from Randolph Street to about 200 feet south of Washington Street. New support columns are in place, and forms are being installed to support the concrete for the new Upper Wacker Drive.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Regine Schlesinger reports

Department of Transportation spokesman Brian Steele says by the time the full project is completed at the end of next year, at a cost of somewhere around $300 million, both Upper and Lower Wacker drives will have been completely rebuilt.

“This is a reconstruction that will last at least 75 years, possibly even 100 years,” Steele said. “The east-west section was built about 7 or 8 years ago. Now we’re redoing the north-south section. So this is an investment in infrastructure that will pay off for decades to come.”

In a news release, CDOT Commissioner Bobby Are thanked the businesses and residents who have been inconvenienced by the project.

The department points out that the city has kept Lower Wacker Drive open for access to parking garages and loading docks.

But some businesses have said their traffic has slowed significantly.

Last month, John Boutzarelos, owner of Emil’s Bar & Grill at 101 N. Wacker Dr., told CBS 2’s Jim Williams his business has fallen by 35 percent since the project began.

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.

For more information, visit the Wacker Drive website at

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