Wacker Drive reopens, ending $300 million reconstruction

(MCT) — The rebuilt north-south section of Wacker Drive will be completely open to traffic on Friday, including the lower-level roadway connection to Congress Parkway, Chicago transportation officials said Thursday.

The plan calls for the Wacker-Van Buren Street intersection to open between 8 and 9 a.m., according to the Chicago Department of Transportation.

Then, in early afternoon, Lower Wacker is scheduled to fully reopen in phases, for the first time since 2010, to allow for a controlled and orderly debut of the new underground ramp that is designed to provide drivers with a more gradual merge onto Congress Parkway, CDOT spokesman Pete ScalesÖ said.

Lower Wacker should be fully open in time for the evening rush, he said Thursday as crews were still finishing up lane striping and testing the new lighting.

The reopenings mark the completion, except for landscaping next spring and small punch list items, of the $300 million reconstruction of Wacker between Randolph Street and Congress.

The stretch, which features wider sidewalks and crosswalks, is used by 150,000 pedestrians on an average weekday, CDOT said. It also serves about 60,000 vehicles, half on Upper Wacker and half on Lower Wacker. The average daily traffic count on Congress is 75,700 vehicles.

“Recreating a double-deck highway boulevard through the downtown was no small task,’’ said Chicago Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein. “Now it’s a modern, much more safe and efficient roadway whether you are in a car, using transit, biking or walking.’’