With no rest for the weary, IDOT has announced that they will begin a rehabilitation of the Kennedy Expressway, spanning from the Edens Expressway junction all the way down to W. Ohio St. With work set to begin March 20th, major travel delays are anticipated and IDOT is encouraging people to use the CTA, Metra, and drive during off-peak times.
Projected to cost $150 million (we’ll see), the project will rehabilitate 36 bridge structures along the stretch, replace overhead signage, install new signs and LED lights, patch pavement, and perform structural painting. Additionally, the project will modernize the 52-year-old system that controls the gates to the express lanes and update Hubbard’s Cave with new paint and LED lighting.
Carved through the northwest neighborhoods of Chicago, the Kennedy Expressway opened back in 1960, with its latest major rehab dating back to 1994. IDOT claims the project will improve safety, traffic flow, and reliability for the more than 275,000 drivers who use the expressway every day.
With the work set to be split into three years of construction, this year will focus on the inbound lanes. Two lanes will be closed at a time, but the express lanes will be running in the inbound direction to help minimize traffic impact from shifting lane closures in accordance with work during the summer. Later in the summer, crews will paint and install the new LED lighting on the inbound portion of Hubbard’s Cave. If crews can stay on schedule (again, we’ll see), all inbound lanes and ramps would be reopened in the fall, with the express lanes also resuming normal operation for the winter.
In 2024, IDOT will close the reversible express lanes to modernize the system that controls the gates to the express lanes. Work on the bridge structures will be performed and pavement patching also be done. Mainline lane closures should also be expected for the installation of new LED lighting in both directions of Hubbard’s Cave. If crews can stick to the schedule, this second construction phase will wrap up by fall 2024.
The third construction season, planned for 2025, will focus on the outbound lanes. Two lanes will be closed at a time, with additional overnight and ramp closures needed to complete the work. To mitigate traffic during this season, the express lanes will be set for outbound traffic. Work on the LED lighting in Hubbard’s Cave will continue on the outbound lanes in this season as well. Like the first two years, crews are expected to finish this work by the fall of 2025.