What drivers need to know about the Kennedy Expressway construction and traffic effects – NBC Chicago

Starting next week, the commute to Chicago will look very different for some.

That’s as construction begins on a 7.5-mile stretch of the heavily trafficked Kennedy Expressway, kicking off a years-long project that will see road closures and traffic disruptions through 2025.

Transport officials are already proposing that commuters adjust their working hours to travel during off-peak hours, work remotely if possible or take another mode of transport to limit the impact on driving times, but the message is clear: expect delays.

The construction is likely to impact public transportation as well as inbound and outbound commuting.

Here’s what you need to know:

Where will be built and for how long?

Overall, the work will take place in three phases that will continue for three “construction seasons,” with an expected completion date in the fall of 2025. Still, officials stressed that the schedule is “weather permitting” and subject to change.

Here’s what the Illinois Department of Transportation says to expect:

Phase I – Incoming Kennedy

Two main carriageways will be closed at the same time. To help minimize the impact on traffic reversible express lanes remain open in the inbound direction and motorists cannot exit the express lanes until Armitage Avenue. Lane shifts and nighttime lane closures, along with several driveway closures, are required to complete the work. Later this summer, painting and installation of new LED lighting will begin on the inbound Hubbard’s Cave, between Ohio and Lake Streets. Construction is expected to be completed later this fall, with all lanes and ramps reopening and express lanes returning to normal use.

Phase II – Reversible express lanes

The reversible express lanes will be closed to allow for restoration of the REVLAC system and bridge structures, along with sidewalk restoration. In addition, main lane closures are required painting and installation of new LED lighting in both directions of Hubbard’s Cave, between Ohio and Lake Streets. Construction is expected to start in the spring of 2024 and be completed in the fall of 2024.

Phase III – Outgoing Kennedy

The reversible express lanes will remain open in the outbound direction, while two main lanes will be closed at once. Lane shifts and nighttime lane closures, along with several driveway closures, are needed to complete the job. In addition, new LED lighting will be installed and painted in the outgoing Hubbard’s Cave, between Ohio and Lake streets. Construction is expected to start in the spring of 2025 and be completed in the fall of 2025.

When will the lane closures start?

The first lane closures will begin at 10 p.m. Monday.

“So Tuesday morning … the motoring public will see these two left lanes closed on the inbound road,” said Jon Schumacher, head of IDOT’s construction office. “The reversals will be permanently 24/7 in the inbound configuration for the rest of the year.” And from about a week after that, the full seven and a half miles are covered. It’s just that part of the Kennedy that was built when it was built, that’s the part that was built at the time it was programmed to do it.”

The first steps will be to simply “put the work zone in place”.

“The work will initially include setting up the work zone and gradually reducing the 7.5-mile stretch of the inbound Kennedy to two through lanes,” IDOT said in a release. Crews will place barriers from the Edens intersection southbound to Ohio Street. This process is scheduled to take place each night from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. the next morning and is expected to take about a week for the work zone to be in place. “

What is the full timeline?

Which areas will be most affected?

While work this year will focus on inbound construction, which will lead to many delays, outbound commuters can also expect some additional traffic as express lanes will remain inbound for the rest of the year.

Public transport is also likely to see an increase in passenger numbers, although some agencies are already increasing their presence in anticipation.

What can I take instead?

IDOT officials urged drivers to adjust their schedules or seek alternative modes of transportation during construction.

“Look for alternative routes, take Metra, take CTA,” Schumacher said. “We’ve also advised people to maybe spread their working hours. So if they can start a few hours earlier, they might be able to avoid the worst of the rush hour. Because of the pandemic, a lot of people were able to work remotely. So if some people who can work remotely, if that’s something they can do, that will also help us minimize some of the traffic impact we’re going to see.”

Metra announced this week that it was revising its schedule on the UP Northwest Line beginning April 3 to add 12 trains to its weekday service.

“Metra has been monitoring both passenger numbers and customer feedback, and these schedule changes respond to trends in passenger numbers and increase capacity and convenience by extending both peak and off-peak periods,” Metra CEO and Executive Director Jim Derwinski said in a statement. “And with a major multi-year rehabilitation project slated to start on the Kennedy Expressway, this new schedule will allow Metra to provide more commuters with a viable and much less stressful alternative to driving.”

IDOT has also suggested that commuters leave earlier and use back roads for their commute, though they noted it can be a process of trial and error.

“Just find the route that suits you best,” said Schumacher. “And it won’t be… the first route you take on a Tuesday morning may not be the best. Keep trying different alternatives and see what works for you based on your travel time and your destination and that should help your consequences .”

Why is this construction happening?

The estimated $150 million project includes “rehabilitation of 36 bridge structures and the Reversible Lane Access Control (REVLAC) system, replacement of road sign structures, installation of new signage and upgraded LED lighting, pavement repair and structural painting.” Hubbard’s Cave, from Grand Avenue to Wayman Street, will also be painted and new LED lighting installed, IDOT said.

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