Drivers on the I-290 near Colvin Boulevard who had already been dealing with construction-related lane restrictions and slowdowns got an even bigger headache Thursday morning.
That's because there were road signs warning motorists that two lanes in that stretch of highway were closed when, in fact, only one was actually closed. So reading the signs, drivers thought they all had to squeeze into the center lane.
Add to that a collision that blocked the center lane of the eastbound I-290 near the Elmwood Avenue exit at around 8:30 a.m. and the tail-end of the morning commute turned into a real mess.
The left-lane closure that's been in effect for several weeks was no longer in place Thursday morning, but the signs directing traffic to exit that lane were still up, said Susan Surdej, spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation, which is undertaking a $6.7 million replacement of two bridges.
There was "confusion with the contractor" during a time when the traffic pattern was being shifted with the right lane being closed, Surdej said.
"Anytime we're instituting a new traffic pattern, that tends to back up traffic," she said.
The traffic pattern put into place Thursday, thanks to the construction of a temporary bridge in the median, will carry one of the two lanes of eastbound traffic onto one of the westbound lanes. The pattern will be in place through November before all lanes are reopened for the winter, Surdej said.
The project will resume early next year as crews perform the work on the bridge that carries westbound traffic.
The existing concrete bridges are being replaced with steel bridges. The on-ramp from Colvin to the westbound I-290 is closed this construction season and will be closed next construction season.
Only two lanes of traffic will be open in each direction as construction continues.