There may be protests snarling traffic in the Loop and NATO motorcades shutting down the Kennedy Expressway Monday, but officials promise smooth sailing on one bridge.
The Congress Parkway bridge over the Chicago River finally reopened Tuesday after two years of congestion for drivers. The bridge is one of the main arteries in and out of Chicago for suburbanites in DuPage and Kane counties.
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"This project is completed in time to open up the bridge so there is access to downtown Chicago right at the time the NATO summit is coming to the city," Congressman Danny Davis, a Chicago Democrat, said at a news conference. The summit runs Sunday and Monday.
Work on the bridge meant closing down lanes in both directions as crews replaced the entire deck.
The project required rebuilding the bridge structure and replacing pumps and motors. It also meant a farewell to the old, slippery open grid surface that was replaced by a closed, "skid-resistant" pavement.
Reconstruction of the bridge cost $33 million, with 20 percent coming from the state and 80 percent from the federal government.
The bridge was built in 1956. It carries nearly 150,000 vehicles a day.
"The last time the bridge was worked on was in 1981, more than 30 years ago; it was clearly in need of repair," Gov. Pat Quinn said.
Meanwhile, another major downtown Chicago project continues on Wacker Drive. The work involves improvements to Upper and Lower Wacker Drive between Congress Parkway and Randolph Street with related lane and street closures. Construction is scheduled to end in December. For more information, go to wackerdrive.net/.