71st Street Underpass Nearing Completion

There is light at the end of the tunnel for a project that will ease traffic congestion in the Bridgeview area, especially around Toyota Park. After overcoming a few unexpected obstacles, engineers say that completion of the project is set for mid-October.

Over the past month, they have set the second stage of the bridge, prepared the retaining walls on all four corners of the bridge for completion and completed a new water main for Pepsico’s manufacturing plant in Bridgeview.

Work that is currently being completed this month includes pouring the retaining wall panels, continuing to excavate for what will be 71st Street under the bridge and west, along with installing roadway drainage on the west side of the bridge once it’s excavated. The project, which creates an underpass on 71st Street under the CSX and Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad tracks, will provide another viable route between Harlem Ave. and Roberts Road. While its biggest impact will be easing traffic delays in the area on event days at Toyota Park, it will also ease traffic on 79th Street for the normal weekday commute.

Another part of the project includes the addition of a sidewalk that will link up with already existing sidewalks on 71st Street, improving the ability for local residents to walk or ride their bike to events at Toyota Park.

The 71st Street Underpass project has been funded by CREATE, a federal stimulus program that sponsored projects to move rail lines away or around busy intersections. Total cost of the improvement will total around $20 million.

“With freight traffic expected to double over the next couple decades, the 71st Street Underpass was an urgent necessity for our area,” Bridgeview Mayor Steven Landek said. “Once complete, we’ll be able to ensure that freight traffic can more easily move through our area, ease traffic congestion for our residents, and improve accessibility to the industrial property east of Harlem Avenue.”

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