About 150,000 cars that normally drive on the Dan Ryan Expressway each day will shift to alternate routes, and other commuters will have to take buses or trains when reconstruction of the region's busiest highway starts in April, according to a wish list officials recently offered.
But if that doesn't happen, officials with the Illinois Department of Transportation don't have another plan to avert traffic gridlock during the biggest road-rebuilding project in the Chicago area, the Chicago Tribune reported.
The suggested alternate routes include Ashland Avenue on the west and Stony Island Avenue and Lake Shore Drive on the east. Although no transit improvements are in the works, drivers are also encouraged to ride the CTA or Metra during the $600-million reconstruction, scheduled for completion in late 2007.
The "cars off, trucks on" strategy would leave room for the approximately 48,000 trucks that use the Ryan daily and about 122,000 passenger car drivers who ignore urgings to stay off the Ryan (Interstate Highway 90/94) while half of the lanes are closed for reconstruction, starting April 1.
But if drivers don't heed the warnings, the department has no plans to restrict the number of passenger cars using the expressway, even in peak periods, said the Transportation Department's chief of staff Clayton Harris III.
Traffic-condition reports may also be sparse. Loops buried in the pavement to help officials calculate travel times will be torn up during the road rebuilding. Diane O'Keefe, the Transportation Department's chief engineer in the Chicago area, said the agency hasn't decided on a plan to provide travel-time data to the public.
In addition, CTA and Metra officials said they would take a wait-and-see approach. Officials at both transit agencies are confident excess capacity exists on their rail lines.
"We are not doing anything different," said CTA spokeswoman Robyn Ziegler.
Only three lanes will be open in each direction on the Ryan elevated bridge between 13th and 28th Streets, starting in April. Express lanes will be closed in both directions from 31st to 71st Streets.