Closures Begin on Kennedy Expressway

Major delays expected as crews replace the Ohio Street bridge

Five words Chicago drivers don't want to hear: Downtown Kennedy Expressway is closed. 

It's here, and travelers will want to steer clear of I-90/94 at Ohio and Ontario streets during the last three weekends in June.

Crews will demolish the section of the westbound Ohio-Ontario Street Bridge to eastbound I-90/94 over the Kennedy as part of a $16.5 million improvement project.

"Based on its age and condition, the [Ohio Street] structure needs to be replaced," the Illinois Department of Transportation said in a statement. "The first stage which is currently underway will construct a portion of the new bridge adjacent to the existing structure, while traffic continues to utilize the bridge."

Expect weekend closures of either I-90/94 or the Ohio Street ramps between 10 p.m. Friday and 5 a.m. Monday the following weekends: June 13-15, June 20-22 and June 27-29. 

On the weekend of June 13-15, the eastbound Kennedy between Chicago and Grand avenues and reversible lanes will close as the first portion of the bridge over the expressway is removed. Two eastbound lanes will be diverted onto the eastbound Ohio Street exit to a temporary cross-over.

Westbound Ontario Street, and entrance ramps to Augusta, Division and Jackson also will be closed.

During June 20-22, the westbound Kennedy from Grand Avenue to Ogden and reversible lanes will close for the removal of the second part of the bridge. Two lanes will be diverted onto the eastbound Ohio ramp to Orleans Street.

Entrance ramps to Jackson, Adams, Madison and Randolph, as well as the westbound Congress to westbound Kennedy entrance ramp, also will be closed.

During June 27-29, the eastbound Kennedy exit to Ohio Street will close as the last portion gets removed. Both directions of the Kennedy will be open during this leg of construction. 

"Motorists can expect significant delays and back-ups and should seek alternate routes," transit officials said in a statement. 

About 260,000 vehicles travel along the Kennedy each day.

The bridge was constructed in 1959 to provide access between the expressway and the city's Central Business District and River North neighborhood.

IDOT said the busy ramp carrying traffic from Ontario Street to east and westbound I-90/94 will be reconstructed and realigned during the project. It will be replaced with a three-span steel girder structure over the Kennedy and a single span, steel girder structure over the eastbound I-90/94 to the eastbound Ohio Street exit ramp.

If there are weather delays, IDOT has scheduled the following backup dates: July 18, July 25 and August 8.

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