Rough Road: Construction begins on Dan Ryan
April 1, 2006 (WLS) -- The barricades are up, the lanes are closed, and the construction crews are at work on the Dan Ryan Expressway Reconstruction Project.
The work got underway around 10 p.m. Friday. The construction will cut the number of available lanes on the Dan Ryan in half and take away the shoulders. The renovation will affect Interstate 90/94 in both directions from 13th Street to the Bishop Ford interchange.
Chicago Mayor Richard Daley is encouraging commuters to use public transportation rather than travel the Dan Ryan during construction. Daley says those who decide to drive should try to car pool or look into alternate routes.
IDOT officials recommend drivers stay off the Dan Ryan Expressway whenever possible. They recommend the following alternatives:
- Ashland Avenue on the west
- Stoney Island on the east
- Lake Shore Drive on the east
"This is the biggest project that I personally have been part of. The $600 million urban expressway reconstruction. They don't happen all that often," said Jacek Tyszkiewicz, IDOT Dan Ryan Project Engineer.
Tyszkiewicz knows the two-year-long Dan Ryan reconstruction project means rough roads ahead, but the already congested expressway four decades old is in dire need of a facelift.
"The pavement underneath the asphalt is crumbling. The drainage wasn't that particularly good. The planners back in the 1960's expect only 150,000 vehicles a day," said Tyszkiewicz.
The expressway will be down to three lanes in each direction.
"It's going to be painful. The expressway will be painful," said Tyszkiewicz.
Once complete, there will be an additional lane in either direction on the Dan Ryan.
"By virtue of just adding that lane all the way through the system in both directions northbound and southbound, you're going to increase the capacity," said Tyszkiewicz.
In addition to taking alternative routes, IDOT officials are also recommending drivers share the commute and van-pool to work.
Some businesses along the alternate routes are looking forward to the reconstruction. One diner is already seeing an increase in business.
"This is a good thing for me, yes. I got two new signs, I got extra help for my cook," said Anthoula Karagiannis, John's Drive-In Diner.
Some are worry the construction could drive them out of business.
"The last few years we have been struggling with the economy, so it's going to really be very bad for businesses around this section of State Street," said Jessie Yousef, Stockyard Meat and Produce.
Some say the parking restrictions are hurting their business.
"I'm hoping we'll find some way to figure out what we can do for our customers," said Diana Garza, Crucial Gear Clothing.
Even though the closures will be in place over the weekend, the real test will come during the Monday morning commute.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.
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