Kennedy Expressway Phase 2 construction set for next week, IDOT says

Thursday, March 7, 2024
Kennedy Expressway Phase 2 construction set for next week
Kennedy Expressway construction is revving up again. IDOT announced Phase 2 of the plan will begin Monday, impacting Chicago traffic.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Prepare for a heavier commute on the Kennedy, again.

"It's certainly going to take a lot longer to get downtown than it currently does," commuter Robbie Bourne said. "No express lanes in the equation it's going to be a lot more blue line than the expressway it sounds like."

Monday night, weather permitting, the Kennedy reversibles will close for phase two of the expressway's three-year project.

"Getting out there now, doing the big rehabilitation, it's gonna prevent us from having to come back every couple of years doing patching, that emergency patching that we would see every year so getting out now is the right time to do that work," IDOT District 1 Bureau Chief of Construction Jon Schumacher said.

This phase of the work is starting ahead of schedule thanks to the mild temperatures. The $150 million project is improving seven-and-a-half miles of the Kennedy with work already done inbound improving bridges, lights, signs, paving and painting on the mainline.

"Pay attention, slow down in the work zones and it'll keep everyone safe," Schumacher said.

The express lanes will also get rehabbed and get new gates to keep up with technology making for a smoother commute once complete.

The Kennedy Expressway officially opened in 1960, and supports an average of over 270,000 vehicles a day.

"They were redone in 1990, so you're talking technology that's 35 years old, if you think about what your computer was doing back in 1990 versus what your computer is doing now that's the main issue," Schumacher said.

There was a unified message from drivers on Thursday.

"In the long run it helps, but it's a little inconvenience, we endure, we do what we have to do," commuter Ardenia Beverly said.

The construction begins in just three days, so commuters are bracing for big changes.

"Allow yourself more time to be more successful in navigating through all this traffic," Uber driver Claude Julian said.

Construction schedule

Monday, March 11

  • Starting at 9 p.m., the inbound Kennedy and Edens will gradually be reduced to one lane from just before the Edens junction to Irving Park Road (Illinois 19).
  • At the same time, the reversible express lanes will fully close. They are anticipated to reopen in late fall.
  • The following intermittent ramp closures also will take place: Inbound Edens: Wilson Avenue; Inbound Kennedy: Montrose Avenue and Irving Park Road

Tuesday, March 12

  • Starting at 9 p.m., the outbound Kennedy will be reduced to two lanes between North (Illinois 64) and Fullerton avenues.
  • At the same time, outbound Kennedy intermittent ramp closures between North and Fullerton avenues also will take place.

Wednesday, March 13

  • Starting at 9 p.m., the inbound Kennedy will gradually be reduced to one lane from Milwaukee Avenue to Lake Street.
  • At the same time, the outbound Kennedy between Madison Street and Milwaukee Avenue also will be reduced to one lane.

Thursday, March 14

  • Starting at 9 p.m., the outbound Kennedy will gradually be reduced to one lane between North and Fullerton avenues.
  • At the same time, intermittent outbound Kennedy ramp closures between North and Fullerton avenues will also take place.

The work and schedule are highly weather dependent, IDOT said. If any overnight work is canceled due to the weather, it will be rescheduled to the first available night that conditions allow.

"In the long run, you should see less maintenance on your car, so that's something you can think about. And it's just a smoother commute, so no one is spilling their coffee," Schumacher said.

Also, beginning the week of March 11, bridge cleaning, painting and LED light installation at Hubbard's Cave will require closure of the left lane on the inbound Kennedy from Chicago Avenue to Lake Street and on the outbound Kennedy from the Jane Byrne Interchange to Grand Avenue, IDOT said.

The westbound Randolph Street ramp to the outbound Kennedy will close and is anticipated to reopen later this fall. During that time, motorists should follow the posted detour. Drivers also should expect various overnight shoulder and intermittent lane closures in both directions of the expressway, between Milwaukee Avenue and Randolph Street.

IDOT said this year's work is anticipated to be completed later this fall, with efforts shifting to the outbound Kennedy through Hubbard's Cave in 2025.

IDOT recommends traveling during non-peak hours and utilizing mass transit and using the Chicago Transit Authority's Blue Line and Metra's Union Pacific Northwest Line, in particular, as well as Pace.

"Everybody stay calm. We will be getting to our destination," commuter Carissa Dominguez said.

There are a total of three phases to the plan. Phase two is expected to end by fall 2024.

The plan is to complete the entire project by 2025.