Chicago traffic: 3-year Kennedy Expressway construction project now underway

Diane Pathieu Image
Tuesday, March 21, 2023
Motorists brace for delays as Kennedy construciton begins
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Commuters dealt with some long delays Tuesday morning on the inbound lanes of the Kennedy Expressway.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The barricades are up and it's the first morning of the Kennedy Expressway construction project Tuesday.

IDOT crews began setting things up overnight. Two left lanes are now down from Montrose to Irving Park. By the end of this week, it will extend to Hubbard's Cave.

For paramedic Danny Wurtz it's a headache waiting to happen.

"On and off that all day, traffic is already bad, so it's just going to get worse," Wurtz said.

The three year, $150 million project will be done in three phases. First the inbound lanes this year then the reversible lanes in 2024, followed by the outbound lanes in 2025.

Chicago's Kennedy Expressway reconstruction

It's work that really needs to get done. The 63-year-old expressway hasn't undergone any major work in nearly 30 years.

SEE MORE: IDOT to begin 3-year project on 36 bridges over Kennedy Expressway; closures expected

Residents living near the expressway are preparing for heavy traffic everywhere.

"I think that this neighborhood, and neighborhoods that sit on the expressway are about to have a lot more cars cutting through," commuter Cory Larson said.

Bridge decks will be repaired, along with replaced overhead sign-structures, new LED lights, pavement patching and more.

WATCH: Drone video shows new Kennedy closures

During this first phase, another change, the express lanes will remain inbound during the entire first phase of the project which should last until later this year.

"I know it's inconvenient and it's going to be three years it's going to be a big long project, they are going to make it work, just hang in there, ride your ride," commuter Julie Reinhold said.

IDOT officials say if you can manage, try to either leave home earlier, or stagger your drive time in. Otherwise, CTA and Metra are options. The UP Northwest is even adding more trains to help accommodate.

Other possible alternatives include the Eisenhower Expressway or DuSable Lake Shore Drive.

You can find more information about the project here.