McKINLEY PARK — The pothole-laden flyover ramp on Ashland Avenue over Pershing Road will soon be history.
“It’s an eyesore. It’s old and there’s not a need for it,” said Jessica Cummings, a spokeswoman for Ald. George Cardenas (12th). “We need to make it easier for people to get through there."
The demolition is expected to begin in July and last for about a year.
A Chicago Department of Transportation spokesman said one lane of traffic in each direction will be open during the demolition phase, and Ashland should be open to four lanes of traffic by the end of this year.
The project, which includes new landscaping, sidewalks, traffic signals, green space, sewers and streetlights, will cost an estimated $13 million.
The overhaul has at least one business owner rejoicing.
Wanda Gin helps run China Chef, a small cash-only Chinese restaurant at 3832 S. Ashland Ave. that’s tucked under the overpass.
“Of course it’s a good idea. We’ll get more business because of that,” she said. “People don’t know we exist.”
City officials said the teardown is not connected to recently announced plans to create a Bus Rapid Transit system that would bring a dedicated center bus lane on Ashland from 95th Street to Irving Park Road, with stops every half-mile.
Originally constructed in 1963, the ramp allowed motorists to skirt the industrial traffic headed to the area's factories and warehouses, which are accessible by frontage roads.
But the area — once home to the Central Manufacturing District, an industrial corridor that drew thousands of workers from across the city to its centrally located factories — is changing, and many of the warehouses dotting the landscape are vacant.
At least one developer is looking to turn portions of the corridor into a commercial center, with a redevelopment of 1.3 million acres at 35th Street and Ashland Avenue, home of the old Wrigley gum factory.
Teardown of that building is already under way.