Kennedy Expressway construction may be 'carmageddon' - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Kennedy Expressway construction may be 'carmageddon'

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(Photos by FOX 32's Craig Wall) (Photos by FOX 32's Craig Wall)
CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Drivers beware and be warned.

That's the message from the Illinois Department of Transportation about the upcoming construction project that will demolish the Ontario feeder ramp to the inbound Kennedy Expressway starting in mid-June.

“If you don't have to be on the Kennedy those weekends, don't be on the Kennedy,” said Tony Quigley, IDOT Implementation Engineer.

Work will begin at 10 p.m. on Friday June 13 and wrap up by 5 a.m. the following Monday, with a similar schedule the following two weekends, weather permitting. IDOT did not want to try and predict the extent of the backups that the work will cause.

“It's hard to say. There is a backup with all lanes open on a normal basis, so we are just expecting huge backups and we are just telling people to stay away,” Quigley said.

The bridge was built in 1959 and is showing serious signs of wear and tear. IDOT said repairing it was not a viable option. And while there are major festivals, including Blues and Gospel Fest during the construction weekends, there were no better options.

“The weekends in the months of June and November tend to be the lighter traveled weekends, so in coordination with the city of Chicago we tried to find the dates that would have the least impact,” said Steve Travia, IDOT Operations Engineer.

During the first weekend:

  • Inbound Kennedy lanes will be shut down;
  • Reversible lanes will be closed;
  • Traffic will be diverted to two lanes on the Ohio Street exit ramp, and then be reconnected via some temporary lanes back onto the expressway after the construction zone.

The weekend of June 20, the outbound Kennedy and reversibles will be shutdown with traffic being forced off on the Ohio Street exit where drivers will do a U-turn at Orleans and loop back onto the Kennedy.

The pain eases on the final weekend, when just the inbound Ohio Street exit ramp will be closed and the main lanes on both the inbound and outbound Kennedy will be open.

The new Ontario Street feeder ramp is nearly completed, and is expected to be open as early as Sunday night. IDOT has warning signs on major expressways and tollways heading towards the city to remind drivers. They are urging people to use public transportation, or consider alternatives such as Lakeshore Drive, the Eisenhower or the Stevenson. Further out, drivers can avoid coming through downtown on the Kennedy by taking I-294, I-355 or even I-39.

More information on the project and detours, can be found on IDOT’s website.

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