CHICAGO -- Work begins today on a project that Chicago officials have debated for two decades: how to realign the congested, confusing and high-accident six-corner intersection where Damen, Elston and Fullerton avenues meet.
The roughly $60 million project will reroute Elston to the north of the current intersection — improving traffic flow and safety for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists.
Starting today, Damen and Elston will be reduced to one lane in each direction.
Phase one includes demolishing part of a Midtown Athletic Club building and taking over part of the Vienna Beef facility. This will create room for a new bypass that will be used to create three separate intersections. Vienna Beef is moving its factory to Bridgeport.
More than 70,000 vehicles pass through the intersection every day. At peak hours, the average travel time to get through the intersection is seven minutes.
The Chicago Department of Transportation says the project is expected to be complete by November 2016.