CHICAGO (CBS) — If you drive on the Kennedy, you’d be well-advised to avoid the downtown stretch of the expressway the next few weekends, as the Ohio and Ontario feeder ramps will be taken out of commission for a major construction project.

CBS 2’s Derrick Young reports the traffic nightmare begins this weekend, when the inbound Kennedy will be reduced to two lanes, starting a mile before the Ohio ramp, as crews begin demolishing the bridge on the Ohio/Ontario interchange. The reversible express lanes will be closed near the Ohio ramp as well.

The Illinois Department of Transportation recommended motorists headed south exit the Kennedy at Western Avenue as an alternative to get to the Eisenhower Expressway. Lake Shore Drive, the Stevenson Expressway, and the Eisenhower also can be used as alternatives to get downtown.

The following weekend, the outbound Kennedy will be reduced to two lanes, starting at Congress Parkway. Traffic will be diverted off the expressway, around the construction site, then back onto the Kennedy. The westbound Ontario ramp to the reversible expressways will be closed.

IDOT recommended motorists headed north exit the Dan Ryan at 35th Street, head west to Ashland Avenue, then head north to the Kennedy. Motorists headed downtown can get off the Dan Ryan at the Stevenson Expressway junction to Lake Shore Drive.

The final weekend, Kennedy lanes will stay open, but the Ohio Street exit and entrance ramps will be closed.

Each weekend, lane and ramp closures will begin at 10 p.m. Friday, and lanes should reopen by the start of the Monday morning rush.

Illinois Department of Transportation officials have advised motorists to avoid the downtown section of the Kennedy entirely, and use alternate routes, such as the Eisenhower or Stevenson expressways, or to take public transportation.

In an effort to accommodate people who normally take the Kennedy on weekends, the CTA was adding extra bus and train service.

“Each weekend, CTA is adding extra train service – longer trains – to its busiest rail routes to allow more customers a quick, convenient, and affordable commute to and from downtown,” said Gary Schenkel, executive director of the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications. “CTA will also add bus service on some routes to accommodate more passengers, and will reroute two buses to help avoid congested areas.”

Work started last August on two new bridges to replace the old one that’s coming down. The entire $18 million project should be completed by October.

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