Kennedy Expressway

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Kennedy Expressway
Route information
Maintained by IDOT
Length: 17.80 mi[1] (28.65 km)
Existed: 1960 – present
Component
highways:
Major junctions
West end: O'Hare International Airport in Chicago
  US 12 / US 45 in Chicago
I-294 in Rosemont
I-90 / I-190 in Chicago
IL 171 in Chicago
IL 43 in Chicago
I-94 in Chicago
IL 19 in Chicago
IL 64 in Chicago
East end: I-90 / I-94 / I-290 / IL 110 in Chicago
Highway system
Illinois State Highway System

The John F. Kennedy Expressway is a 17.8-mile-long (28.65 km) freeway that travels northwest from the Chicago Loop to O'Hare International Airport. The highway is named for the 35th U.S. President, John F. Kennedy, and conforms to the Chicago-area convention of using the term Expressway for an Interstate Highway without tolls. The Interstate 90 (I-90) portion of the Kennedy is a part of the much longer I-90 (which runs 3,111.52 miles (5,007.51 km) from Boston, Massachusetts to Seattle, Washington). The Kennedy's official endpoints are the Circle Interchange with Interstate 290 (Eisenhower Expressway/Congress Parkway) and the Dan Ryan Expressway (also I-90/94) at the east end, and the O'Hare Airport terminals at the west end. The Interstate 190 portion of the Kennedy is 3.07 miles (4.94 km) long and is meant to serve airport traffic. Interstate 90 picks up the Kennedy destination and runs a further 6.29 miles (10.12 km), before joining with I-94 for the final 8.44 miles (13.58 km).[1]

Traveling eastbound from O'Hare, the Kennedy interchanges with the eastern terminus of the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (Interstate 90) and with the Tri-State Tollway (Interstate 294) at a complex junction just west of Illinois Route 171 (Cumberland Avenue). The Kennedy later merges with the southern end of the Edens Expressway (Interstate 94) at Montrose Avenue; the Kennedy (at this point both I-90 and I-94) then turns south to its junction with the Dan Ryan and Eisenhower Expressways and Congress Parkway at the Circle Interchange in downtown Chicago.

With up to 327,000 vehicles traveling on some portions of the Kennedy daily, the Kennedy and its South Side extension, the Dan Ryan, are the busiest roads in Illinois.[1]

History[edit]

The Kennedy was originally constructed along the route of Avondale Avenue, an existing diagonal street, and the northwest railroad corridor, in the late 1950s and completed on November 5, 1960. Originally named the Northwest Expressway for its general direction of travel, the Chicago City Council voted unanimously on November 29, 1963—one week after the assassination of President Kennedy—to rename the highway the John F. Kennedy Expressway.[2] Until 1978, the Kennedy Expressway was marked as Interstate 94 and Illinois 194, Interstate 90 and Interstate 190 replaced Illinois 194 and thus the Eisenhower Expressway was renamed from Interstate 90 to Interstate 290.

The express portion of the freeway was last reconstructed from 1992 through 1994,[3] when the existing express lanes, which previously were reversed by hand, were modernized. In addition, all aspects of the express lanes system were computerized, so that the process could be controlled at both ends from a central location. At least once a day, however, IDOT crews still examine the express lanes for debris while the lanes are still closed.

In 2005, the Washington Street bridge over the expressway was reconstructed, and the entrance ramps to both directions of the Kennedy were partially removed. The same was done in 2006 for the Monroe Street bridge. This left a disconnected portion of each ramp remaining on the expressway, to be removed and the existing "suicide ramps'" lengths extended when funding became available. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provided the necessary funding for the construction between Hubbard Street and the Circle Interchange, commencing in summer, 2009. The westbound (facing north) ramps at Adams Street and Madison Street, along with the eastbound (facing south) ramps at Randolph Street and Madison Street, were lengthened by removing what remained of abandoned ramps and lengthening the entrance ramps significantly.[4] The only remaining short, limited-sight, left-side "suicide ramp" entrance is from Lake Street to the eastbound expressway (heading south). As part of the project, eastbound (heading south) traffic patterns were adjusted. The two right-most lanes were made "Exit Only" for Chicago Loop, Congress Parkway, and Eisenhower Expressway exits, the Adams Street and Jackson Boulevard exits were combined, certain center median walls reconstructed, lanes restriped to remove the merging of the leftmost lanes, and appropriate signage changes. For example, the changes increased the taper for the Randolph Street entrance headed eastbound from 160 feet (49 m) to 583 feet (178 m),[5] an increase of over 3.6×. In the westbound direction (headed north), the exit ramp to Monroe Street was permanently removed.

Features[edit]

An eastbound view of the Kennedy Expressway heading toward downtown Chicago.
Southeastward view of the Kennedy Expressway from the Montrose Blue Line Station, with the reversible express lanes to the right of the tracks.
Magikist Lips sign formerly located on the Kennedy Expressway at Montrose Avenue in Chicago, torn down in 2004
The Polish Museum of America and Polish Roman Catholic Union signs that are visible to westbound travelers on the Kennedy Expressway nearing the Augusta Boulevard exits.
Sign over the Kennedy Expressway, at the north entrance to Hubbard's Cave, encouraging commuters to use Metra trains, such as one seen here passing over the highway, to avoid the common congestion.

One feature of the Kennedy Expressway is the Chicago Transit Authority's Blue Line that lies in the median for about 10 miles (16 km) from just south of Addison Street to just east of Mannheim Road. In 1984, the city of Chicago decided that the best option to serve the needs of the people regarding public transportation,was a rapid transit line constructed in the median to O'Hare Airport instead of a fourth lane in both directions. This had been done previously in the early 1950s within the medians of the Eisenhower Expressway, and for the Dan Ryan Expressway in 1969. The decision proved to be wise, as the rail line is heavily traveled by commuters and travelers during the rush hour.

The second distinct features of the Kennedy Expressway are its reversible express lanes where I-94 merges into I-90. The reversible lanes lie in the median of the highway from the Kennedy Expressway/Edens Expressway junction until just north of the Loop (at Ohio street), a distance of about eight miles (13 km). These reversible lanes allow two lanes of traffic to flow towards or away from the city, depending on the time of the day. The lanes are controlled by computers and verified by humans at a separate control center. Steel mesh barriers and breakaway gates prevent traffic from entering oncoming lanes. On January 25, 2014, a drunk driver broke through the safety gates and drove in the express lanes in the wrong direction, but was stopped by a snow plow; no injuries were reported.[6] This was the first wrong-way accident involving the express lanes.[citation needed]

A third distinct feature is Hubbard's Cave, also called The Hubbard Street Tunnel, a continuous set of bridges for a number of streets and railroads over the highway that forms a tunnel. It is named for Hubbard Street, one of the streets it passes underneath. Hubbard's Cave is a landmark frequently heard in traffic reports on radio and TV.

The final distinct features are the nine exits in two miles (3.2 km) between mile markers 50 and 51, and the southbound exit to I-290 and Congress Parkway is marked as exits 51H and 51I. While the density of interchanges is quite dangerous, the hazard is partially offset by the fact that exits are 500 feet (150 m) apart on the right hand side, while entrances to the highway were 500 feet (150 m) apart, but on the left side. Known as the "suicide ramps", the entrance ramps on the left had little to no acceleration zone, and traffic on the ramps could not see mainline traffic until the last 500 feet (150 m) of the ramp. The 2009–10 reconstruction between Hubbard Street and the Circle Interchange improved safety by increasing the lengths of most entrance ramps and reduced bottlenecks by better-utilizing the existing space.

The Kennedy Expressway was the location of a large Magikist lips flashing sign which was a Chicago pop culture icon for many years. Located at the southeast corner where Montrose Avenue abutted the expressway, the sign was torn down in 2004.

Exit list[edit]

The entire route is in Cook County.

Location Mile[1] km Exit Destinations Notes
Chicago 0.00 0.00 O'Hare International Airport Continuation beyond Bessie Coleman Drive
0.99 1.59 Bessie Coleman Drive – International Terminal 5
1.27 2.04 2 US 12 / US 45 (Mannheim Road) (10400 West) Signed as exits 2A (west/north) and 2B (east/south); eastbound exit to US 12 east/US 45 south is via Bessie Coleman Drive
Rosemont 1.79 2.88 1D I-294 south (Tri-State Tollway) – Indiana Signed as exit 1D eastbound
1.81 2.91 1C I-294 north (Tri-State Tollway) to I-90 west (Jane Addams Memorial Tollway) – Milwaukee, Rockford Eastbound exit and westbound entrance
2.24 3.60 1 River Road (9400 West) Signed as exits 1A (north) and 1B (south) eastbound
Chicago 3.07–
78.7
4.94–
126.7
I-90 west (Jane Addams Memorial Tollway) to I-294 north (Tri-State Tollway) – Rockford, Milwaukee
I-190 – O'Hare International Airport
Eastern end of I-190; westbound exit and eastbound entrance; westbound Kennedy Expressway takes exit 78 from I-90
79.6 128.1 79 IL 171 south (Cumberland Avenue (8400 West)) Signed as exits 79A (south) and 79B (north)
80.3 129.2 80 Canfield Road (7900 West) Westbound exit and eastbound entrance
81.2 130.7 81A IL 43 (Harlem Avenue (7200 West))
81.2 130.7 81B Sayre Avenue (7000 West) Westbound exit and eastbound entrance
82.2 132.3 82A Nagle Avenue (6432 West) No westbound exit
82.4 132.6 82B Bryn Mawr Avenue (5600 North) Westbound exit only
82.8 133.3 82C Austin Avenue (6000 West) Eastbound exit only
83.3 134.1 83A Foster Avenue (5200 North) No eastbound exit
83.5 134.4 83B Central Avenue (5600 West) Westbound exit and eastbound entrance
84.2 135.5 84 Lawrence Avenue (4800 North) Signed to Interstate 94 west – Wisconsin
84.8–
43.32
136.5–
69.72
I-94 west (Edens Expressway) – Milwaukee Western end of I-94 concurrency and express lanes; westbound exit and eastbound entrance; colloquially known as "The Junction"; westbound Kennedy Expressway takes exit 43B from I-90/I-94
43.6 70.2 43C Montrose Avenue (4400 North) Westbound exit and eastbound entrance
43.9 70.7 43D Kostner Avenue (4400 West) Westbound exit only
44.2–
44.4
71.1–
71.5
44A IL 19 (Irving Park Road (4000 North)) / Keeler Avenue (4200 West) No westbound exit
44.6 71.8 44B IL 19 (Irving Park Road (4000 North)) / Pulaski Road(4000 West) Westbound exit and eastbound entrance
45.1 72.6 45A Addison Street (3600 North)
45.5 73.2 45B Kimball Avenue (3400 West)
45.8 73.7 45C Belmont Avenue (3200 North) to Kedzie Avenue Westbound exit and eastbound entrance
46.1 74.2 Sacramento Avenue (3000 West) Eastbound entrance only
46.3 74.5 46A California Avenue (2800 West) Eastbound exit and westbound entrance
46.5 74.8 46B Diversey Avenue (2800 North) Westbound exit only and eastbound entrance
47.05–
47.5
75.72–
76.4
47A Western Avenue (2400 West), Fullerton Avenue (2400 North) Westbound exit and an eastbound entrance for Western Avenue
47.6 76.6 47B Damen Avenue (2000 West) Westbound exit and eastbound entrance
48.15 77.49 48A Armitage Avenue (2000 North)
48.7 78.4 48B IL 64 (North Avenue (1600 North))
49.4 79.5 49A Division Street (1200 North)
49.7–
49.8
80.0–
80.1
49B Augusta Boulevard (1000 North), Milwaukee Avenue Westbound exit and eastbound entrance
50.1 80.6 50A Ogden Avenue (1200 West) Eastbound exit and westbound entrance
East end of express lanes
50.4 81.1 50B Ohio Street east (600 North)
51.0 82.1 51A Lake Street (200 North) Westbound exit and eastbound entrance
51.1 82.2 51B Randolph Street west (150 North)
51.2 82.4 51C Washington Boulevard east (100 North) Westbound exit and eastbound exit
51.3 82.6 51D Madison Street (0 North/South)
51.4 82.7 51E Monroe Street (100 South) Eastbound exit only
51.5 82.9 51F Adams Street west (200 South) Eastbound exit only (combined ramp with Jackson Boulevard, exit 51G)
51.6 83.0 51G Jackson Boulevard east (300 South) Eastbound exit (combined ramp with Adams Street, exit 51F) and westbound entrance
51.8 83.4 51H I-290 / IL 110 west (Eisenhower Expressway) – West Suburbs Eastbound exit and westbound entrance
51.8 83.4 51I Congress Parkway – Chicago Loop (500 South) Eastbound exit and westbound entrance
I-90 east / I-94 east (Dan Ryan Expressway) – Indiana Continuation beyond I-290
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Illinois Technology Transfer Center (2006). "T2 GIS Data". Illinois Department of Transportation. Retrieved November 8, 2007. 
  2. ^ "Northwest Expressway Is Renamed for Kennedy". Chicago Tribune. November 30, 1963. Retrieved March 11, 2010. 
  3. ^ Hilkevitch, John (March 26, 2006). "Buckle Up, It Looks like a Long Ride". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved March 26, 2006. 
  4. ^ Hilkevitch, Jon (July 13, 2009). "Kennedy Expressway Left-Lane 'Suicide' Ramps Makeover Begins Monday". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved July 21, 2013. 
  5. ^ Hilkevitch, Jon (December 21, 2009). "Getting Around: Kennedy Expressway's New Ramps Get a Test-Drive". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved July 21, 2013. 
  6. ^ "IDOT Snowplow Stops Wrong-Way Driver in Kennedy Expressway Express Lanes". Chicago Sun Times. Sun-Times Media Wire. January 25, 2014. 

External links[edit]

Route map: Google / Bing