A three-year Kennedy Expressway construction project begins Monday night that’s sure to wreak havoc with commutes as the work is done all the way from the junction with the Edens Expressway to Ohio Street.
Stretches of the two inbound left lanes will be closed until July. Then, the work will shift and shut down stretches of the two right lanes until construction season ends in the fall.
The impact of the $150 million construction project should hit home as drivers head downtown Tuesday morning, said Maria Castaneda, a spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Transportation.
Expect major delays.
“Every day when you’re driving, you’re going to notice a change,” Castaneda said. “You’re going to notice that your available lanes are going to be less and less as we go each stage.”
To try to lessen the impact, while the two inbound lanes are closed, the express lanes will be inbound-only. That should help people heading south. But it also means the express lanes won’t be switched to outbound as normally is done.
IDOT is urging people to use mass transit if possible or, if you’re heading downtown in the morning, wake up much earlier because your drive is going to take much longer.
“In the morning, definitely give yourself much more time,” Castaneda said. “Clearly, there’s going to be people who cannot change their schedule no matter what. But, if you can vary your times when you commute in and out, we’re asking you to do that.”
Once the lanes are closed, IDOT will demolish and replace bridges along the expressway. It takes about a week to take down a bridge and five weeks to build a new one.
Ramps and exits won’t be affected for now, Castaneda said.
But she said “some of the bigger mainlining roads that feed into the expressway” are sure “to get backed up.”
More than 275,000 vehicles a day use the expressway.
In the spring of 2024, the work will move to the express lanes and then, in the spring of 2025, to the northbound lanes.