Although traffic on South Michigan Avenue moved well during the first two days of lane reductions for the repair of the Grant Park South underground parking garage, officials are cautioning motorists to be prepared for the major traffic pattern change that will arrive in time for Wednesday morning’s rush hour.
That is when all vehicle traffic will be routed to the west half of Michigan Avenue while the east side of the roadway is under construction between Adams and Van Buren.
The traffic will remain two lanes in each direction, but those total four lanes will all be next to each other, instead of having northbound and southbound traffic separated by a barricaded median as was the case Monday and Tuesday.
This new traffic pattern is the one that will remain in effect until Thanksgiving, after which it will shift to the east half of the street while the west portion is rebuilt, according to Public Building Commission executive director Eileen Carey.
“While Michigan Avenue remains open, we still are encouraging motorists to avoid the construction area if possible, using Columbus Drive or any other north-south street,” Carey said, noting that lighter-than-normal traffic helped avoid major delays yesterday and today.
Jackson Drive between Michigan and Columbus in Grant Park is already closed for the construction work, but Jackson Boulevard west of Michigan Avenue will remain open until Thanksgiving when the work shifts to that side of the street.
The $29 million reconstruction of the 38-year-old Grant Park South Garage began last March and is scheduled to continue through the fall of 2002. Those portions of Michigan Avenue and Jackson Drive affected by the construction work actually rest atop the garage structure.
As a result of the construction work, the Chicago Transit Authority is temporarily skipping its bus stops at Jackson Boulevard in both directions and southbound only at Van Buren to take them out of the construction zone.
The Art Institute stops on the city’s popular summer free trolley system were moved one block north last Thursday, to mid-block between Monroe and Adams, likewise taking them out of the construction zone.
Traffic officials are still allowing northbound Michigan Avenue motorists to make left turns onto Van Buren and Adams, but those turns may have to be curtailed if there is excessive traffic congestion.
All of the other municipal parking garages have remained open and will continue to be available to motorists. They include the recently renovated Grant Park North Garage with 1,800 parking spaces; the East Monroe Garage (3,800 spaces) and the new Millennium Garage, which has 1,550 parking spaces open now and more due in August.
When Grant Park North Garage was rebuilt, it required lane closures on Michigan Avenue-between Randolph and Monroe-very much like those starting Monday from Adams to Van Buren.
The rebuilt Grant Park South garage is scheduled to reopen with 1,300 parking spaces in September 2002, about two months before the project is completely finished.
For more information on this project, contact the PBC at (312) 744-3090 or visit its website at www.pbcchicago.com, where detailed charts of each phase of the project have been posted.
Also, the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce will assist businesses within the construction zone that have any problem with deliveries or other operational needs due to the roadwork. Chamber CEO Gerald Roper has set up a hotline at (312) 494-6712 to receive such calls.