U.S. Deputy Transportation Secretary Porcari Visits Chicago for Opening of North-South Wacker Drive; $300 Million Project Improves Traffic Safety, Extends Life of Major Artery
CHICAGO – U.S. Transportation Deputy Secretary John D. Porcari today participated in the re-opening of the lower Wacker Drive roadway, a critical route through downtown Chicago. The $300 million project, which received $240 million in federal funds, is the first major repair to the north-south Wacker Drive since it was built in the 1950s. Deputy Secretary Porcari joined Governor Pat Quinn, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and others at the opening.
“The improvements to Wacker Drive will reduce congestion and help commuters and commerce move more efficiently around Chicago for decades to come,” said Deputy Secretary Porcari. “Strengthening our infrastructure while creating jobs and growing the economy – it’s all part of President Obama’s vision of an America built to last.”
In addition to replacing a badly deteriorated, 65-year-old viaduct, workers constructed a new and improved ramp from the lower level to the Congress Parkway and reconfigured the Congress Parkway interchange to improve sight lines and create longer merge lanes to reduce accidents.
The Lower Wacker Drive’s entrance ramp onto westbound Congress and the eastbound Congress exit ramp at Franklin Street were moved below ground. The Lower Wacker Drive ramp will have a longer acceleration lane to make it easier for drivers to find an opening in traffic, and the Franklin ramp onto westbound Congress was removed to eliminate the double-merge with the Lower Wacker ramp onto westbound Congress.
“This important investment will help strengthen economic growth and competitiveness in one of America’s largest cities,” said Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez. “Today we are delivering a new and improved Wacker Drive that will make driving, biking and walking safer and easier for years to come.”
According to the Chicago Department of Transportation, 66,000 drivers and 140,000 pedestrians use the north-south Wacker Drive each day.