MCKINLEY PARK — For the past year, motorists using the busy Ashland Avenue corridor between 35th Street and south of Pershing Road have endured construction delays and lane closures.
But there's an end in sight.
The city's transportation department said the $13 million project, which included the teardown of the bumpy "flyover" ramp and a complete overhaul of the road, is expected to wrap up in early December.
Built in the early 1960s, the ramp was constructed so drivers could avoid the ground-level truck traffic headed to nearby factories, many of which have been torn down.
In its place will be a completely reconstructed road that will bring new traffic lanes, widened sidewalks, lights and landscaping to Ashland from 35th to just past Pershing.
That's not the area's only changes.
Several of the large factory buildings that were once part of the Central Manufacturing District have been destroyed by fire or knocked down for salvage, and the partially demolished Wrigley gum factory at 35th Street and Ashland will soon be brought down, likely to be replaced by a retail development.
A transportation department spokesman said the construction project is not related to the city's controversial Bus Rapid Transit plan for Ashland Avenue, which could eventually bring 16 miles of dedicated express bus lanes and commuter loading platforms to the corridor's medians.
Those plans remain in limbo as the city transportation officials continue to study the project's design and merits.
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