Carmageddon: Ontario Bridge construction to snarl Kennedy Expres - Fox 2 News Headlines

Carmageddon: Ontario Bridge construction to snarl Kennedy Expressway

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - Chicago is a special place in the summer. The trick will be getting into the city this month.

That’s because, as city and state officials stressed again Tuesday, the Illinois Department of Transportation will be demolishing the 55-year-old westbound Ontario Bridge to the Kennedy Expressway.

When crews begin tearing down the bridge, they'll be blocks away from the west side. Yet, busy Western Avenue is one of the suggested routes for frustrated motorists who want to avoid a tight 2-lane squeeze.

"I don't look at problems before they happen, I wait for them to happen and then I take care of them...put it in park if it's that much traffic, come on and see us, no problem," said P.J. Zonis of Lockdown Bar and Grill in Humboldt Park. "My customers are pretty resourceful."

The bridge work comes at a time when Chicagoans need to get around; whether between graduations, festivals and Father's Day. Officials say if you plan ahead, you'll arrive on time.

In order to demolish the westbound Ontario Bridge, IDOT will close some Kennedy lanes from 10 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday over three weekends — June 13-15, June 20-22 and June 27-29 — inevitably clogging the expressway traveled by 260,000 vehicles every day, as well as city streets and alternate routes.

It will all coincide with events like the Chicago Blues Festival, the Taste of Randolph Street and Chicago Pride Fest, the Chicago Pride Parade and several other summer events.

“We’re expecting a challenge,” said IDOT Secretary Ann Schneider.

Here’s the plan:

- June 13-15: Three lanes on the inbound Kennedy will be closed. The reversible lanes will only be open outbound starting at the middle gate.

- June 20-22: Three lanes on the outbound Kennedy will be closed, and the reversible lanes will be shut down.

- June 27-29: The eastbound Kennedy exit to Ohio will be closed.

Schneider and other officials encouraged visitors to use public transportation. The Chicago Transit Authority will be increasing rail service and Metra will boost seating capacity on its weekend trains, they said.

Gary Schenkel of the Office of Emergency Management said planning for this project has been a massive job. However, it's also a fluid plan that can be adjusted on the fly. They'll know when to do that by watching everyone's movements on a sophisticated network of cameras.

"It's really about coordination and....providing services around the city," said Schenkel.

They are also reaching out to officials in neighboring states to warn potential visitors to the city.

Detour routes can be found at www.dot.state.il.us/KennedyatOhio/detour.html.

Public transportation options can be found at www.transitchicago.com and www.metrarail.com.

Sign up for free emergency traffic alerts via text message at www.notifychicago.org.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

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