Mar 29, 2023 - News

What to expect from the first phase of Kennedy Expressway renovations

Work zones without workers on the Kennedy. Video: Monica Eng/Axios

On my way home from O'Hare on Saturday, I got my first look at the initial phase of the Kennedy Expressway work that will plague commuters as the state rebuilds 7.5 miles of roads and bridges.

Why it matters: This $150 million project to renovate infrastructure is going to make our already slow traffic a little slower for a few years.

  • And if you're like me, you might have recently been miffed by miles of closed lanes where it appears nobody is working.
  • I asked officials at the Illinois Department of Transportation what gives — and what to expect as construction gets underway.

What they're saying: IDOT is "still setting up the work zone, which we do at night to minimize disruption to traffic," spokesperson Maria Castaneda tells Axios.

  • "But once this work zone is set up, that's when you're going to see some really massive work going on."

What to expect: Rainy weather could interrupt work like concrete pouring and "striping," Castaneda says.

  • Also, for two weeks after concrete is poured in various sections, it may look like "no one is doing anything."
  • "That's because the concrete needs time to cure to ensure that it's the proper strength to allow a vehicle to drive over it," Castaneda says.

Yes, but: Why do they have to close lanes on the entire 7.5-mile stretch instead of working on smaller sections one at a time?

  • Doing it all at once actually speeds up the process, she says, "because we are able to do the work concurrently versus completely finishing one portion and then moving on."

What we're watching: Some night work could require even more lane closings, Castaneda warns, "especially if we have to get in there with big cranes or other big machinery."

What's next: IDOT hopes to have the inbound phase done by late fall, when construction will stop for the cold s


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Chicago.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Chicago stories

No stories could be found


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Chicago.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more