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Two Major Construction Projects Will Give Chicago Headaches In 2015

By Chuck Sudo in News on Feb 18, 2015 10:00PM

Rendering of the exterior of the proposed DePaul University basketball arena.(Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects)

It’s going to warm up eventually and, when it does, the air will be filled with the sounds of fresh construction and roadwork. Two projects—one of them possibly unnecessary—will dominate the next couple years.

Let’s start with the project that will affect us the most—the reconstruction of the Jane Byrne Interchange (formerly the Circle Interchange). Weather permitting, construction of a flyover bridge connecting the Dan Ryan expressway to outbound I-290 will begin March 7. The interchange, once named one of the worst pieces of infrastructure in America, has provided headaches for generations of Chicago commuters and the flyover will allow two lanes of vehicles to merge into I-290, instead of the one crawling lane. Starting at Roosevelt Road and going over Harrison Street, the flyover is expected to ease congestion and provide added safety when completed.

The Interchange project will run into 2016, meaning drivers should expect a series of ramp closures and detours throughout.

The closures will include the ramp from the inbound Ryan to eastbound Congress Parkway, with a detour to exit at Roosevelt and take Jefferson or Harrison to Congress. The ramp from the inbound Ryan to the outbound Eisenhower will remain open but traffic will be shifted to a temporary roadway. The right lane of the inbound Ryan from the I-55 interchange to Roosevelt will be blocked, and the inbound and outbound I-55 ramps to the Ryan will be reduced from two lanes to one.

The other major construction project of 2015 is the groundbreaking of the multiuse arena near McCormick Place best known as being the future home of the DePaul men’s basketball team. Groundbreaking on the much-ballyhooed project will commence in July. The project has already gone over budget and undergone design changes in order to keep costs down, which only adds to the criticism of the project since it’s being funded in part with TIF funds. But Mayor Emanuel has repeated for months the arena is an integral part of the city’s tourism and trade show plan to revamp McCormick Place and Navy Pier.

[NBC Chicago, DNAInfo Chicago]