Wacker Drive reopens to the delight of drivers - KMSP-TV

Wacker Drive reopens to the delight of drivers

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Wacker Drive reopened to motorists Friday to the relief of drivers as the three year improvement project wrapped up just in time for the weekend and the holidays.

After several years of construction, the intersection of Wacker Dr. and Van Buren St. opened just before 8 a.m. Friday morning, with Lower Wacker Dr. re-opening in the early afternoon. Governor Pat Quinn and Mayor Rahm Emanuel were on hand to officiate the opening of the first instersection. By the evening rush, all of the ramps will be open.

"Any construction project in Chicago that's wrapping up is a good project, lets put it that way," says Jim Becker, a city driver.

The bounty of barricades that have transformed Wacker Drive into a constant headache for drivers these past three years are about to disappear.

For those who have done without their favorite downtown shortcut--Lower Wacker Drive--the wait is almost over.

"For me, it's eliminating the disruption of having to go around the whole project, making it easier to get across town," says driver Tom Fioretti.

It was back in the spring of 2010 that phase two of the $300 million project began to rebuild Upper and Lower Wacker between Monroe and Van Buren.

For taxi drivers, whose living depends on getting around efficiently, the project couldn't wrap up soon enough.

"It's going to help us a lot to avoid traffic, going out of the city from Michigan Avenue, will take you all the way to the highway without any traffic or anything," says taxi driver Arafat Harfoush.

Just as important for many drivers is the interchange connecting Congress and Lower Wacker which also opens Friday. The Loop, the underground route for criss-crossing, is no longer dark and dingy thanks to new lighting and better ventilation.

There are also new or redone ramps.

Drivers are relieved, glad to see all the "closed" on Wacker Drive finally come to a close.

"I moved away from this city, I moved back, it's still under construction," says Becker. "I think it's total access to the east side of the city having this open…This is going to mean the world to me."

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