Detours, headaches are in place as Jane Byrne Interchange work ramps up

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Byrne interchange work starts the spring construction season. | Brian Jackson/For The Sun-Times

Chicago-area drivers headed through the Loop got their first look Wednesday at what their morning commute will be like for a very long time — and they survived.

“They got the idea,” said Illinois State Police Master Sgt. George Jimenez.

Jimenez said there were “no serious incidents” as a result of the ramp closings and detours necessary for the next phase of work on the Jane Byrne Interchange; that $475 million overhaul is scheduled for completion in 2018.

As cars trundled past traffic barrels and detour signs, a traffic-control worker — one of those folks with the neon-green jackets — said that, on the whole, drivers are handling the reroutes as well as can be expected.

“It’s just the look on their faces — confused and frustrated,” said one worker posted at Taylor and Jefferson.

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Drivers on Wednesday were dealing with new delays as the next phase of work to untangle the Jane Byrne Interchange kicked off. | Stefano Esposito/Sun-Times

The lane closings have forced many cars onto city streets to route them around the interchange. Among other changes, that means the two lanes that funnel drivers onto the single-lane ramp that connects the Dan Ryan to the Eisenhower will be reduced to one lane. The lane reduction will be in place through late summer of 2016 as crews work to complete an entirely new connector that will be expanded to two lanes and span the spaghetti-bowl interchange.

About 35,000 drivers a day use the ramp connecting northbound Dan Ryan motorists to the outbound Eisenhower.

In addition, access to Congress Parkway from the Dan Ryan will close Thursday and remain closed until the late summer of 2016.

On-ramps to the Dan Ryan at Taylor and Roosevelt will also remain closed through the duration of the project.

The three northbound and three southbound lanes of I-90/94 that act as a main artery through the city will remain open. They will be affected only on four weekends between Labor Day and Thanksgiving, when lanes will be reduced for overnight construction work.

The project as a whole aims to reduce interchange congestion by half. About 400,000 cars travel through the interchange every day.

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