Thank you for not driving on the Kennedy Expressway (I-90/94) last weekend. And please, don't do it again, IDOT engineers are asking drivers as they gear up for the second phase of bridge demolition at the interchange with Ohio and Ontario streets downtown.
The traffic disruption is significant but needed because of the challenges of tearing down the Ontario Street bridge over the expressway, engineers said.
From 10 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday, the westbound Kennedy will be squeezed into two lanes starting at Congress Parkway. The expressway itself will be closed between Grand and Ogden avenues with traffic diverted to a detour using Ohio and Orleans streets.
The Ontario Street feeder ramp will also be closed as a result of the bridge work, as will the outbound entrance ramps between Jackson Boulevard and Randolph Street.
The resulting mess is expected to create a domino effect on the rest of the expressway, and drivers are urged to take public transit or use alternate routes.
Metra will be adding cars to its Union Pacific and Milwaukee District lines and the CTA is increasing service. The CTA has $5 daily parking at lots along the Blue Line at Rosemont, Cumberland and Harlem stations. Metra is also offering a $7 weekend pass program.
The public took warnings about a traffic meltdown to heart June 13 through June 16 while the eastbound Kennedy lanes were closed and gridlock was averted, officials said.
Construction crews made significant progress and were able to cut the lane closures from three weekends in June to just two.
About 45 truckloads of concrete and debris will be carted away while the Ontario Street bridge is demolished. The bridge is outdated and structurally deficient, IDOT Secretary Ann Schneider said.
Drivers who do use the Kennedy are urged to exit before the downtown area and use arterial roads like Elston Avenue to reach the city or Lawrence Avenue to access Lake Shore Drive.