Multi-Year Overhaul Planned for Circle Interchange

The $375 million construction could start as early as 2014

circle interchange

Frustrated by a congested Chicago commute? Help is on the way. 

The Illinois Department of Transportation unveils plans Thursday for a massive overhaul of the traditionally backed-up Circle Interchange, the spot where the Eisenhower, Kennedy and Dan Ryan expressways all merge.

The interchange last year was ranked the worst bottle-neck in the country for trucks and one of the worst for cars by a study of the 250 most-congested highway locations. It found trucks traveled an average of 29 mph through the interchange, and between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m., that speed dropped to 15 mph.

It came as no surprise to daily commuters, but IDOT hopes to change that reputation with $375 million worth of construction over multiple years starting as early as 2014. 

The bad news for drivers? It'll get worse before it gets better as construction likely will slow traffic even more and for several years.

IDOT wants to ease congestion by expanding the ramps where the three expressways meet. More lanes will be added to the Ryan and Kennedy under the circle and an extra lane added to the ramp connecting the inbound Eisenhower to the northbound Kennedy. Infrastructure improvements also are on tap.

Design plans for project are still being finalized, but IDOT says the added lanes alone could significantly reduce construction.

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