Expressway Summer


Expressway reconstruction: a rite of Chicago’s non-winter season. Chicago’s not the only place this happens, but from my outsider’s perspective, late spring/summer/fall-until-it-snows seems to be given over to large-scale highway projects. This year, the Dan Ryan Expressway on the South Side is being rebuilt. Not repaved — reconstructed from the roadbed up. The middle eight lanes — the “express” lanes, four northbound, four southbound — are torn up right now; that leaves three lanes in each direction in the main construction zone (from about 13th Street to 71st Street).

Mid-afternoon Saturday, we got a nice view during our slow-but-not-horrible progress down the Ryan (towards my brother Chris’s suburban manse in far-off Tinley Park). We headed back north Saturday night just before midnight. The work was still going on (what sort of overtime and weird-shift bonuses are these highway workers making?).

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3 Replies to “Expressway Summer”

  1. I avoided that all together. It looked bad. We took to using Harlem Avenue and then only at odd hours. But this project is quite the undertaking. When we were there in April those middle lanes were exposed dirt. It looked pretty wild. What that city could really use is a beefed-up mass transit system. But all these cities could use that. The Ryan always fascinated me. It was the first big city expressway I ever drove on and it was, at times, hair raising. It was/is one of those Robert Moses scale projects which has the power to be both exhilerating for the power and speed of it all and revolting in its massive waste of space and energy. And it is not pretty to look at. The boulevards of Paris do not come to mind or for that matter the boulevards of the Bronx (The Grand Concourse) or Chicago(Garfield). The Ryan is strictly point A to point B in its utilitarian nature. At any rate, I’ll drive on it when I am in town.

  2. I’ve never had the pleasure of driving in Chicago although I imagine driving in Chicago can’t be much different than driving in Detroit. Someday I’ll be in Chicago longer than the time it takes to make that mad dash at O’Hare.

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