- Associated Press - Saturday, June 14, 2014

CHICAGO (AP) - Chicago drivers bracing for delays on the Kennedy Expressway as a major bridge construction project gets underway received some good news Saturday afternoon: The work initially set for three weekends has been condensed to two.

Crews began demolition of the westbound Ohio-Ontario Street Bridge to Interstate Highway 90/94 on Friday and will continue working until early Monday morning.

But Illinois Department of Transportation officials said Saturday afternoon they now expect work on the $16.5 million project to wrap up after next weekend instead of pushing into a third weekend as was originally planned. The agency said the fast pace of demolition work had allowed the condensed work schedule.

Illinois Department of Transportation officials have encouraged drivers to seek alternate routes or use public transportation to reach the downtown area.

Some drivers say they plan to steer clear of the area. But truck drivers have no choice but to use the busy roadways because they can’t use local roads, and they’re urging drivers to use caution or find an alternate route.

“When you’re riding around out here we have to (be) careful and it would be nice if they gave us a little break,” truck driver Cedric Lewis told Chicago FOX 32 News on Friday. “I am one of those who say you have to have an alternate A plan, a B plan and even a C plan.”

The eastbound lanes of the Kennedy Expressway between Chicago and Grand avenues and reversible lanes are closed this weekend. The inbound Ohio Street exit ramp will be closed starting at 10 p.m. Saturday. It along with westbound Ontario Street and entrance ramps to Augusta, Division and Jackson streets also will be closed until Monday at 5 a.m.

Other exits and portions of the roadways will be closed the following week.

“The city is open for business,” Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider told Chicago ABC 7 News. “Plan ahead. Make plans for when you’re coming into the city.”

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