Project aims to make Kennedy ramps safer

July 13, 2009 Anyone who has tried to enter the Kennedy Expressway from one of the downtown ramps that merge on the left knows it can be a challenge or a crash waiting to happen.

"It's extremely dangerous! It just backs up all the traffic and there's nowhere to go," said Rich Linder, Kennedy motorist.

"Very dangerous! I do it every day, I don't like it at all, I can't even merge properly," said Diane Stodulsky, Kennedy motorist.

In order to improve the safety of that section of the Kennedy, IDOT is redesigning several of the ramps between Hubbard's Cave AND the I-290 interchange. This $9 million project is being done with stimulus money.

"The ramps are something that we've been looking to improve for quite a while, and now that the funding is available we're finally getting this done," said Marisa Kollias, IDOT.

Last week, the Monroe, Adams and Jackson exit ramps from the inbound Kennedy were closed for reconstruction. The Monroe exit from the outbound Kennedy was closed permanently. The new Adams and Jackson exits will share one long ramp that branches off to each street.

It's going to be pretty noisy for the next couple of weeks along the Kennedy between Adams and Monroe. Crews are driving large steel piles into the pavement along side the expressway. These beams will support the retaining walls for the new exit ramps. The work will be done between 7 a.m. and the early evening hours.

In September, crews will rebuild the entrance ramps. Unfortunately, they will still enter from the left, but the approach will be made much longer. For example, the Madison entrance to the inbound Kennedy will increase from 135 feet to 480 feet. One more thing, when that work begins in late summer, the left lane will be closed in both directions through the completion of the project; that's scheduled through November of this year.

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