Construction on Michigan Avenue

By Gregory Cappis

Kaitlyn Mattson

Contributing Writer

Jackhammers and hard hats will be taking up residence along North Michigan Avenue for the next two months.

Construction on Michigan Avenue from Illinois to Oak streets, and continuing along Inner Lake Shore Drive to Division Street, began on Sept. 28 and will last until the middle of November.

Workers began by removing the old asphalt and will continue with a longer process of readjusting the utility structure, according to Brian Steele, spokesman for the Chicago Department of Transportation.

The construction is part of the annual resurfacing program that moves from roadway to roadway based on each one’s condition, especially if pothole repair isn’t enough.

“Resurfacing will address all the pavement imperfections of Michigan Avenue,” Steele said.

The work includes stripping away the old asphalt, patching curbs and sidewalks, adjusting utility structures and manholes, and installing new asphalt and pavement markings.

One or two lanes in each direction will be closed throughout the project, Steele said.

“The closings will occur during off-peak daylight hours, so roughly between 9:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.,” he noted.

The construction site is being monitored to ensure pedestrians on Michigan Avenue can still use the streets efficiently and safely.

“We have [Chicago Transit Authority] operators in the area supervising,” said Wanda Taylor, manager of media relations for the CTA. “They will continue to monitor delays, how traffic is moving, how the buses are moving and then we will make adjustments as needed. But right now buses are not being adversely affected.”

No reroutes have been put in place, but there has been some traffic congestion, Taylor said.

Michigan Avenue is a busy street, not only because of vehicular traffic but pedestrian traffic as well. The project was specifically scheduled to avoid the most frequented times of year—the summer and holiday season, Steele said.

Traffic congestion was also downplayed by the Active Transportation Alliance, whose mission is to make the lives of bicyclists, pedestrians and people who use public transportation in the city safer.

“I don’t anticipate any issues,” said Ethan Spotts, marketing and communications director of the ATA. “We have more than 7,000 members around the Chicago region, and we do have our members reach out to us and let us know occasionally when there are challenges locally with construction projects, and we have always been able to pass that information on to CDOT.”

There have been no delays thus far and the work has been on schedule and is anticipated to continue smoothly, Steele said.

The ATA has yet to hear any complaints about the construction either, Spotts said.

The Michigan Avenue portion of the job is being funded with state and federal dollars, while the Inner Lake Shore Drive portion from Oak to Division streets is funded by Alderman Brendan Reilly (42nd Ward), using aldermanic “menu” money, approximately $1.3 million that aldermen receive as an infrastructure budget each year to be used primarily to repair streets in their wards.

There are parking restrictions in place, and motorists are advised to check signs near the construction site for specific details.