Work began Thursday on a project to realign a congested intersection in Chicago that has been the source of debate among city officials and residents for several years.
The roughly $60 million improvement plan for the intersection where Damen, Elston and Fullerton avenues meet, known as“six corners," looks to improve traffic flow and safety for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists, according to the Chicago Tribune. The project will likely take until late 2016 to complete.
Under the plan Elston would be rerouted to the north of the intersection and will cross Fullerton about one block east, creating three independent intersections with signals.
Ald. Scott Waguespack said the bypass is better than alternative proposals, including one of a tunnel or bridge.
"That would've cost hundreds of millions of dollars to build and hundreds of millions to maintain," he said.
The intersection has been the source of major traffic congestion for the 70,000 commuters traveling through the area each day, and conditions will likely worsen during construction.
Construction is set to begin Thursday evening, weather permitting, and traffic will be reduced to one lane in each direction on Damen and Elston north of Fullerton, according to Chicago Department of Transportation spokesperson Mike Claffey. Crews are set to demolish a section of the Midtown building, and land owned by Vienna Beef will be needed for the project. Vienna Beef is expected to relocate its plant to Bridgeport later this year.
"If it's going to make it safer for everybody then that's a good move," said Vienna Beef employee William Cribbs.
Additional traffic closures are reportedly expected to be announced in late June or early July.
Drivers looking to detour from the construction can take Diversey, Ashland, Clybourn, Webster and North Avenues.