Where to Expect the First Lane Closures and For How Long as Kennedy Construction Begins Next Week

The first stage of the massive, years-long construction project, will begin with the inbound Kennedy, closing two main lanes of the expressway

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A major project is slated to take over a prominent part of the Kennedy Expressway for multiple years, impacting many Chicago-area commuters in a matter of weeks as officials urge drivers to find “alternative routes,” NBC 5’s Patrick Fazio reports.

Beginning Monday, two main lanes will be closed on a highly-trafficked portion of the Kennedy Expressway in a move that is expected to impact thousands of commuters who use the roadway in Chicago.

The first stage of the massive, years-long construction project, will begin with the inbound Kennedy, closing two main lanes of the expressway.

The project will affect drivers from the Edens Expressway junction to Ohio Street in either direction, IDOT said.

"Motorists should expect lane shifts and overnight lane closure, along with various ramp closures," the Illinois Department of Transportation said.

While reversible express lanes "will remain open in the inbound direction" in hopes of alleviating some of the impacts, officials are warning that "major travel delays" should be expected, with IDOT urging people to seek alternate routes or use public transportation.

Project engineers told NBC 5 traffic reporter Kye Martin that first to close will be the two left inbound lanes, which will close between March and July. After that, the two right inbound lanes will be blocked from July to November with open paths to exit and enter at all exits. On weekends and during overnight horus, exit closures are possible, however.

The lane closures are the first part of a three-stage construction plan that continues through 2025.

Also part of the first stage, painting and new lighting installation will begin on inbound Hubbard's Cave between Ohio and Lake Streets this summer. That work is expected to be completed in the fall, with all lanes and ramps reopening and the express lanes resuming normal operations at that time.

Officials have been warning for weeks about the potential for "major delays" due to the upcoming roadwork, urging drivers to look for alternative routes if they're planning to use the expressway.

The project will involve rehabbing 36 bridge structures and the reversible lane access control system, replacing overhead sign structures, installing new signs and LED lights, patching pavement, painting structures and repainting Hubbard's Cave from Grand Avenue to Wayman Street.

"The project will improve safety, traffic flow and reliability for the more than 275,000 motorists who use the expressway each day," IDOT said in a release.

Future stages of the project will see the closure of reversible lanes, which will take place between spring and fall 2024, as well as additional mainline lane closures in both directions for Hubbard's Cave between Ohio and Lake Streets.

Beginning in spring 2025, outbound lane closures will begin. Similar to the first stage, these lanes will close two at a time, with reversible express lanes staying open in the outbound direction.

This work is expected to finish in fall of 2025.

"Motorists should expect significant delays and allow extra time for trips through this area," IDOT said in a release.

The Kennedy Expressway has been officially open since November 1960, but according to IDOT, the last major rehab project on the roadway was completed in 1994.

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