Cars, trucks to share Ryan
Construction to push all traffic to local lanes
Published January 23, 2006
The mixture of cars and trucks traveling at high speeds is never a marriage made in heaven, but on the Dan Ryan Expressway, Chicago's busiest highway, drivers should get ready for a shotgun wedding.
Starting in March and continuing for most of the next two years, passenger cars and semitrailer trucks will share the road while the express and local lanes of the Ryan (Interstate Highway 90/94) are rebuilt between 31st Street and the Ryan interchange with Interstate Highway 57.
Passenger-car drivers who use the Ryan's express lanes, where normally truck traffic is prohibited, are in for a big change this year. Car and truck traffic, totaling 300,000 vehicles daily, will be shifted over to the local lanes.
Cars and trucks sharing the road in both directions will extend into 2007, when trucks will be allowed onto the express lanes while the local lanes are rebuilt.It means that the 80,000-pound big rigs will be pounding away at the new pavement on the express lanes until truck traffic returns to the local lanes.
The biggest headache, however, is that the number of lanes on the Ryan will be reduced by 50 percent during mainline work on the $600 million project. Chicago-area drivers have never before experienced such a deep cut in lane capacity during a major highway project.
Signs warning of "drastic Dan Ryan lane reductions" are being posted on all Chicago-area expressways, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation. Some of the signs urge drivers to avoid the Ryan by taking alternate routes, including Stony Island, Lake Shore Drive and Ashland Avenue; and to use the CTA Red Line and bus routes as well as the Metra Electric Line and the Metra Rock Island District service.
The Ryan work will occur at the same time as other highway makeovers in the Southland Corridor: the reconstruction of the Kingery Expressway (Interstate Highway 80/94), the Borman Expressway (I-80/94) in Indiana, the southern portion of the Tri-State Tollway (Interstate Highway 294) and 11 bridges on the Chicago Skyway.
The northbound (inbound) Ryan from 13th to 31st Streets will be rebuilt this year, according to IDOT. Starting about March 15, all traffic will be directed to the southbound (outbound) side, but there will be only three lanes open in each direction, instead of six lanes.
The express lanes, which begin at 31st Street, will be shut down through 71st Street, requiring all traffic to use the local lanes, IDOT said.
The goal is to open at least one express lane by August and the rest by the end of 2006, IDOT spokesman Mike Claffey saidThen in March 2007, another flip-flop takes place when the southbound Ryan will be overhauled. All traffic, including trucks, will use the express lanes of the northbound expressway between 13th and 31st Streets. The work is scheduled for completion by late 2007.
IDOT expects that only about 15 percent of truck traffic will bypass Ryan construction and take alternate routes.
ONLY 323 DAYS TO NATZ!!