Kennedy Expressway construction project to begin in March

The project will include roadway patching, bridge rehabbing and new lighting between Ohio Street and the junction where the Kennedy meets the Edens Expressway.

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Traffic on the Kennedy Expressway.

The Kennedy Expressway will undergo a major rehab beginning in March, IDOT officials announced Tuesday.

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Ugh.

Fresh off the 10-year-long Jane Byrne Interchange Project, now comes another doozy — a major, multiyear rehab project of a 7.5-mile stretch of the Kennedy Expressway. It begins in March.

The project will include roadway patching, bridge rehabbing and new lighting, signs and paint between Ohio Street and the junction where the Kennedy meets the Edens Expressway near Montrose Avenue, officials with the Illinois Department of Transportation announced Tuesday.

The project will take place over three consecutive construction seasons, each stretching from spring into the fall season, ending in the year 2025.

“Major travel delays are anticipated, alternative routes are strongly encouraged,” IDOT officials said.

The first phase of the project will begin, weather permitting, on March 20 and focus on the inbound stretch of the Kennedy. The two left lanes will be closed until work is completed in July, at which point work will switch to the two right lanes. Motorists should also expect various ramp closures.

To help minimize the impact on traffic, the reversible express lanes will remain open in the inbound direction.

“Using the reversible lanes to offset lane closures will help,” said transportation expert Joseph P. Schwieterman, who teaches at DePaul University.

“Having four lanes open in each direction throughout construction will help limit delays. That’s encouraging. There’s a gigantic difference between four lanes and three lanes, so the roadway capacity should remain pretty high, but still, expect some pain,” he said.

The Kennedy Expressway opened in 1960. Its last major project occurred in 1994. It carries an estimated 275,000 motorists daily.

The upcoming rehab project is set to begin a little more than eight weeks after the Jane Byrne Interchange reopened after 10 years of construction, which included multiple setbacks in its completion date.

Later this summer, painting and the installation of new LED lighting will begin along the inbound lanes in Hubbard’s Cave between Ohio and Lake streets.

Construction is expected to be completed this fall, with all lanes and ramps reopening and the express lanes resuming normal operations.

Construction in 2024 will focus on reversible lanes, which will be closed to rehab the roadway and modernize the 52-year-old system that controls the gates to the express lanes. Some mainline lane closures will be needed to accommodate painting and the installation of new lighting in both directions of Hubbard’s Cave. Construction is anticipated to begin in spring 2024 and be completed in fall 2024.

Construction in 2025 will focus on outbound lanes. Two lanes will be closed from March to July before working on the other two lanes until construction wraps for the year in the fall. The reversible express lanes will remain open in the outbound direction. Work on Hubbard’s Cave will continue during this time.

Also, 36 bridge structures along the 7.5-mile stretch of roadway are slated for rehab work.

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