Congress Parkway Bridge re-opens after two years of repair work

May 15, 2012

By Lauren Chooljian and Elliott Ramos

(Flickr/Kevin Zolkiewicz)

With the re-opening of the Congress Parkway Bridge on Tuesday, downtown motorists can breathe a sigh of relief, albeit a bittersweet one with NATO just around the corner.

“Just in time for NATO, one of Chicago’s most popular bridges is open for driving again,” Gov. Pat Quinn said.

The project coincided with the ongoing reconstruction and rehabilitation of Wacker Drive, which accommodates 60,000 vehicles per day and connects directly to Congress Parkway, according to the governor's office.

Quinn's office credits his Jobs Now! capital program for helping with the project, which they say contributed $72 million in funding, matching $288 million from the federal government, to revive Wacker Drive. 

"The project is expected to create and retain over 3,000 jobs on the Wacker Drive project when it is completed," according to a statement.

Officials from the Illinois Department of Transportation said the Wacker Drive project is scheduled to be finished in October.

Quinn used the bridge reopening as yet another opportunity to push Medicaid and pension reform.
"It's very important we understand what the stakes are in Illinois. Our department of transportation, if it has to spend more money on pensions, then it has less money for roads, bridges and other important means of transportation. So that's what we're going to be telling our legislators," Quinn said.

The $33 million Congress Parkway Bridge project began Apr. 1, 2010 and was funded through the state’s 2010 Regular Construction Program, with 80 percent from Federal Highway Bridge Program funds.