The downtown roadwork on South Michigan Avenue, which has reduced traffic to two lanes in each direction since last summer, will move to the center of the street starting the first week in April-the last major switch in traffic patterns as the road construction reaches its home stretch.
This latest switch means both northbound and southbound traffic will each be on its own side of the street for the first time since last July, instead of sharing the same half of Michigan Avenue between Adams and Van Buren.
It also means there is less than three months remaining of the roadwork as crews work to complete the street construction by June 24, according to the Public Building Commission (PBC), which is managing the project.
The last major shift in the project’s traffic patterns came last November when northbound and southbound traffic both started sharing the east half of Michigan Avenue while the west half was being rebuilt. That configuration remains in effect until this new early April switch.
“Of all the traffic patterns we’ve seen on Michigan Avenue over the past eight months, we expect this latest one to be the easiest for motorists,” said PBC executive director Eileen Carey.
This new traffic configuration also will feed smoothly into the lane reductions in effect since early March for a separate project-the building of median planters between Monroe and Adams and from Van Buren to Congress. Taking both projects together, traffic will remain two lanes in each direction from Monroe to Congress.
At the same time the Michigan Avenue lane reductions end in late June, Jackson Boulevard also will re-open on both sides of that intersection. Jackson east of Michigan Avenue has been closed since last July and to the west side since last November.
The June completion date will be five months earlier than originally planned. When the roadwork started last summer, it was scheduled to continue until Thanksgiving 2002.
Mayor Richard M. Daley-who also chairs the Public Building Commission-authorized an accelerated construction schedule to help minimize the effects of the rebuilding work on local businesses, their customers and area residents.
For the same reason, the separate median planters work was advanced so it, too, could be done by the last week in June. When the roadwork is completed, Michigan Avenue will have new median planters all the way from Monroe and Congress similar to those already in place from Randolph to Monroe.
But the first and foremost need to rebuild Michigan Avenue was caused by the deterioration of the 40-year-old underground parking garage below the street. Before the work began, portions of the roadway-which doubles as the roof of the garage-were being shored up to prevent a pavement collapse.
While all streets will be open in late June, underground work will continue through the summer on the refurbished Grant Park South Garage, scheduled to open in early fall. Until then, motorists still have the city’s three other downtown parking garages: Grant Park North, East Monroe, and the new Millennium Park Garage that fully opened in January.
All of the Michigan Avenue and Jackson Boulevard stores and offices within the construction zone remain open during the roadwork, as do the sidewalks on the west side of Michigan Avenue, including those turning west onto Jackson.
During this next traffic pattern, motorists still will be allowed to turn west onto Adams or Van Buren from both northbound and southbound Michigan Avenue, though right turns onto Van Buren will remain curtailed-as now-only during the weekday rush hours.