A year-long construction project on the Kennedy Expressway will begin tomorrow. Here’s what you should know – NBC Chicago

A construction project on a heavily trafficked 7.5-mile stretch of the Kennedy Expressway will begin tomorrow night, with the change expected to cause extensive delays and increased travel times for the foreseeable future.

The year-long project is scheduled to start on Monday evening at 10:00 p.m., and marks the start of the work which is planned to last at least the autumn of 2025.

While the project has several phases, lane closures and major traffic impacts are expected during the duration of the work.

Transport officials have suggested that commuters adjust their work hours or work remotely if possible, with public transport also suggested as an option,

The upcoming construction will probably have consequences for both public transport and commuting in and out.

Here’s what you need to know:

Where will the construction take place and for how long?

All in all, the work will take place in three phases that will continue over three “construction seasons,” with an expected end date of fall 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:

Stage I – Inbound Kennedy

Two main line inbound lanes will be closed at a time. To help minimize the impact on traffic reversible express lanes will remain open in the inbound direction and motorists will not be able to exit the express lanes until Armitage Avenue. Lane changes and overnight lane closures, along with various ramp closures will be required to complete the work. Later this summer, painting and installation of new LED lighting will begin on the incoming Hubbard’s Cave, between Ohio and Lake streets. Construction is expected to be completed later this autumn, with all lanes and ramps reopened and the express lanes resuming normal operation.

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Stage II – Reversible Express Lanes

The reversible express lanes will be closed to accommodate rehabilitation of the REVLAC system and bridge structures, along with pavement patching. In addition, there will be a need to close the main line to accommodate painting and installing new LED lighting in both directions of Hubbard’s Cave, between Ohio and Lake streets. Construction is expected to start in spring 2024 and be completed in autumn 2024.

Stage III – Outgoing Kennedy

The reversible express lanes will remain open in the outbound direction, while two main line outbound lanes will be closed at a time. Lane changes and overnight lane closures, along with various ramp closures will be required to complete the work. Additionally, new LED lighting installation and painting will be completed on outbound Hubbard’s Cave, between Ohio and Lake streets. Construction is expected to start in spring 2025 and be completed in late autumn 2025.

When do lane closures start?

The first lane closures will begin at 10pm on Monday.

“So Tuesday morning … the motoring public is going to see these two left lanes closed inbound,” said IDOT Office Manager Jon Schumacher. “The reversals will be in the incoming configuration permanently 24/7 for the rest of the year.” And starting about a week after that, a full seven and a half miles will be staged. It’s just the part of Kennedy that when it was built, it was the part that was built in this time it was programmed to do.”

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

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“The work initially involves setting up the work zone and gradually reducing the 7.5-mile stretch of the inbound Kennedy down to two through lanes,” IDOT said in a release. “Crews will erect barriers starting at the Edens intersection moving south to Ohio Street. This process is scheduled to take place each night from 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. the following morning and is expected to take approximately one week for the work zone to be in place. “

What is the full timeline?

Which areas will be most affected?

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

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

What can I take instead?

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

“Look for alternate routes, take the Metra, take the CTA,” Schumacher said. “We’ve also advised people to look at maybe shifting their working hours. So if they could start a little bit a couple of hours earlier, they might be able to avoid the worst rush hour traffic. And similarly, coming out of the pandemic, a lot of people were in able to work remotely. So if some people who are able to work remotely, if that’s something they’re able to do, that will also help us minimize some of the traffic impacts that we’re going to see.”

Metra announced this week that it revised its schedule on the UP Northwest Line starting April 3 to add 12 trains to its weekday service lineup.

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“Metra has monitored ridership as well as customer feedback, and these schedule changes respond to ridership trends and increase capacity and convenience by expanding peak periods as well as off-peak service,” Metra CEO and CEO Jim Derwinski said in a statement. “And with a major multi-year rehabilitation project slated to begin on the Kennedy Expressway, this new schedule allows Metra to provide more commuters with a viable and much less stressful alternative to driving.”

IDOT has also suggested that commuters get out earlier and use arterial roads for their commute, though they noted that it could be a process of trial and error.

“Just find the route that works best for you,” Schumacher said. “And it’s not going to be … the first route you take on Tuesday morning might not be the best. Keep trying different options and see what works for you based on your travel time and your destination, and that should help to minimize impacts.”

Why does this construction happen?

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

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