CHICAGO (CBS) — Construction season came early this year for drivers who use the Jane Byrne Interchange.
All the long-term traffic restrictions for the next phase of a $475 million reconstruction project have gone into effect, as crews begin 16 months of work on a new flyover connecting the northbound Dan Ryan Expressway to the westbound Eisenhower Expressway.
It’s the first time the Byrne Interchange has been overhauled since it was first built in the 50s, and the entire project will take about three years to complete.
On Tuesday night, the following closures went into effect:
- The ramp from Roosevelt Road to I-290/Congress Parkway will be closed, with motorists being directed to drive east on Roosevelt and access the Congress Parkway via Jefferson, Harrison and Wells streets or to drive west on Roosevelt and access the outbound Eisenhower via Ashland Avenue and Van Buren Streets.
- The ramp from Taylor Street to the inbound Dan Ryan will be closed, with motorists being directed to use Taylor Street to Jefferson Street and re-enter the expressway via the Adams Street ramp.
The following closures went into effect Friday at 5 a.m.:
- The ramp from the inbound Dan Ryan to the Congress Parkway will close, with motorists being directed to access the Congress Parkway via Jefferson, Harrison and Wells streets.
- The ramp from the outbound Stevenson Expressway to the Dan Ryan will be reduced from two lanes to one.
- The right lane of the inbound Dan Ryan from the Stevenson to Roosevelt Road will be closed.
- The ramp from the inbound Dan Ryan to the outbound Eisenhower will remain open, but shifted to a temporary roadway.
Three lanes of the northbound and southbound Dan Ryan will remain open throughout the project, except for some overnight closures on holiday weekends later in the year.
The Illinois Department of Transportation said drivers should expect more delays than normal starting Friday morning.
“When we’re working here, traffic will have to reroute, and it will find its way, and people will settle on their favorite path over time; but, yes, there will be other impacts. People will probably choose to use Lake Shore Drive instead of the Ryan,” IDOT engineer Steve Travia said.
The new flyover bridge will have two lanes instead of one, providing some relief for one of the worst traffic bottlenecks in the nation.
IDOT said the new ramp should reduce accidents by 25 percent and reduce traffic delays by half.
Drivers agreed the current setup is a disaster, especially during rush hour; with traffic merging from the right as drivers enter the Dan Ryan, while those trying to get on to the Eisenhower squeeze into one lane.
“It’s like pulling your hair out, and your teeth. It’s very, very stressful,” Birdie Lloyd said. “You get there, and you get trapped, because you don’t know what’s on the other side when you go around to the other side.”
For a solution, commuters are willing to deal with some temporary pain.