CHICAGO (CBS) — For the second weekend in a row, motorists were being advised to avoid the Kennedy Expressway near downtown, as crews complete demolition of the Ohio/Ontario bridge.
The outbound Kennedy will be reduced to two lanes from Grand to Ogden, and the Ohio feeder ramp will be closed, as demolition of a 55-year-old overpass is finished.
Lane closures will begin at 10 p.m. Friday, and are scheduled to open by 5 a.m. Monday. State officials said they can’t stress enough that drivers should avoid the area over the weekend if possible.
At one point in the outbound lanes, drivers will get off the Kennedy entirely, for a detour around the construction site.
“This particular weekend is going to be pretty different than last weekend, in terms of the diversion that we have set up; much more involved, much more complicated. It’s going to pretty much involve a complete U-turn … at the intersection of Ontario and Orleans, and so we are expecting some pretty significant delays,” said IDOT spokeswoman Jae Miller.
To avoid traffic backups, drivers heading north from the South Side or southern suburbs were advised to exit the Dan Ryan Expressway at 35th Street and head west to Ashland Avenue and back to I-90/94, or to take Lake Shore Drive, or public transportation.
In an effort to accommodate people who normally take the Kennedy on weekends, the CTA was adding extra bus and train service during the project. Metra also will have extra cars on some of its trains.
The good news is, IDOT is ahead of schedule on the project, so it should wrap up this weekend, rather needing a third weekend to complete.
The second phase of the project comes as plenty of people will be headed out for the Chicago Pride Festival on the North Side, the Green Music Fest in Wicker Park, and the Gold Coast Art Fest in Grant Park.
Construction of two new bridges to replace the old one began last August. The entire $18 million project should be completed by October.