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Drivers beware: Easter weekend is first holiday since Jane Byrne flyover work began

Drivers beware. This Easter weekend marks the first holiday since the massive Jane Byrne Interchange flyover bridge work began, so drivers who normally travel through that area should plan ahead.

Even state police advised motorists headed in or out of the city on the Dan Ryan or the Stevenson expressways to consider plotting an alternate route around the Jane Byrne this holiday weekend.

In addition, State Police Sgt. Clare Pfotenhauer cautioned that state police will be enforcing the 45 mph construction zone speed limit throughout the flyover construction area. The penalty for speeding in a construction zone is $120 if no workers are present — and $375 if they are, Pfotenhauer said.

Her advice: “Use alternate routes. More importantly, drivers have to obey the laws and reduce their speed and allow extra time.”

Dan Ryan and Stevenson drivers headed in to or out of Chicago may be more likely to be greeted with gridlock than speeding drivers as they navigate the Jane Byrne Interchange over the holiday.

A spaghetti bowl of detours, lane reductions and ramp closures have greeted such motorists since work on the flyover bridge began March 7.

Construction on the overhaul of one of the nation’s worst bottlenecks should be completed by summer 2016, officials say. The $475 million project will replace the existing single-lane ramp from the inbound Ryan to the outbound Eisenhower with a mile-long ramp, starting at Roosevelt, and a two-lane bridge.

The last three Ryan exit ramps into the city — from Taylor Street to Congress Parkway — are now closed, with detours posted. A temporary ramp is taking drivers from the inbound Ryan to the outbound Eisenhower. And inbound and outbound Stevenson ramps connecting with the Ryan have been reduced from two lanes to one.

As a result, about 5:30 pm Thursday, the WAZE traffic app reported vehicles on the Ryan at Roosevelt were crawling along at 23 mph.

It was even worse around that time on the Stevenson. WAZE reported 19 mph traffic on the Stevenson at Halsted, just west of the Ryan.

In addition to construction zone police deployment, state police will be scattered throughout Chicago expressways this holiday weekend enforcing the “fatal four” violations: speeding, drunken driving, seatbelt violations and distracted driving.

The Illinois Tollway predicts Monday will be the heaviest day of traffic on its system, with nearly 1.6 million vehicles expected that day. Over the holiday weekend, a total of 5.7 million drivers are expected on the tollway, about the same as last year, officials said.

Some temporary tollway lane construction closures will be suspended for the holiday weekend beginning about noon Friday until 9 a.m. Monday, tollway officials said.

Drivers who need to use their cellphones are invited to pull off at any of the “Safe Phone Zones” now located at six tollway oases.

Jane Byrne flyover project graphic