Chicago drivers battle a new round of road construction

CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - Drivers beware - if you are coming downtown over the weekend you may want to rethink hitting the highway.

The Illinois Department of Transportation started work at the Jane Byrne Interchange this weekend.

The ramp from the inbound Kennedy Expressway to inbound Congress Parkway closed Thursday morning and will remain closed through Aug. 31, according to IDOT.

A detour route will be posted directing inbound Kennedy traffic to the Roosevelt Road exit, then via Jefferson, Harrison and Wells to connect with Congress.

The ramp will be used over the next two weekends to stage equipment and materials needed for the installation of steel beams that will support the deck of the new flyover bridge linking the inbound Dan Ryan Expressway to the outbound Eisenhower Expressway.

"This is taking a single lane ramp and rebuilding it into a two lane ramp with shoulders should greatly improve capacity traffic flow and safety in that area," said Guy Tridgell, spokesperson for IDOT.

Installation of those beams will also require four weekends of lane closures on the Ryan, beginning Friday night, according to IDOT. The other weekends are Aug. 28-30, Sept. 25-27 and Oct. 16-18. The weekends were chosen to minimize impact to special events and festivals.

"This weekend and next weekend are going to be the same schedule the same sets of closures, they decrease in their impact the last two weekends," said Tridgell.

During the first two weekends, Congress will be closed in both directions, though traffic will be able to access the I-90/94 ramps. Both the Kennedy and Ryan expressways will be reduced to one lane during overnight hours Saturday into Sunday, with intermittent full stops on all lanes.

"There's cars everywhere, but it's Chicago we always deal with traffic and we always have construction going on it seems like it never ends," said Shayla Bell a Chicago driver.

"I'm already tired, I'm a forklift driver so I stand up all day so by time that I get home I don't have enough time with my family just time for me to take a shower, eat and go to sleep," said driver Michelle Bateman.

Some drivers are trying to find the light at the end of the tunnel, like Lenny Zieben and his family who found an alternate route, not shorter, but an alternate.

"Maybe like the same amount of time with stoplights and stuff, but we got to enjoy the neighborhood," said Zieben.

The whole project, redoing the Jane Byrne Interchange will take about 600 million dollars.

IDOT says by 10am Sunday all north/south bound lanes should reopen and by 5am Monday all east/west bound lanes will reopen.

Drivers should expect delays and allow extra time for trips through the affected areas, according to IDOT.