Jane Byrne Interchange
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|Jane Byrne Interchange|
Aerial photo of the Jane Byrne Interchange, looking southwest toward the UIC campus
IL 110 (CKC)
The Circle Interchange (officially the Jane Byrne Interchange) is an expressway interchange near downtown Chicago, Illinois. It is the junction between the Dan Ryan, Kennedy and Eisenhower expressways (Interstate 90/Interstate 94 [I-90/I-94] and I-290), and Congress Parkway. In a dedication ceremony held on August 29, 2014, this interchange was renamed in honor of former Chicago Mayor Jane M. Byrne (1979–1983).
This interchange is notorious for its traffic jams. In 2004, it was rated as the country's third-worst traffic bottleneck, with the drivers of the approximately 300,000 vehicles a day using it losing a combined 25 million hours each year. In a 2010 study of freight congestion (truck speed and travel time), the Department of Transportation ranked this section of the I-290 as having the worst congestion in the United States; the average truck speed just 29.41 mph (47.33 km/h).
This interchange is logically a turbine interchange, with each of the four mainlines having a single entrance and exit serving both directions of the crossing highway. It does not use the quadruple-decker architecture commonly associated with stack interchanges. Instead, it has a flattened layout, using the long, curving ramps to circumnavigate the crossing of the mainlines. This results in fewer tall bridges and gives the interchange its distinctive "circle" appearance.
Both I-90/I-94 and I-290/Congress Parkway have three lanes in each direction at this interchange. Each of the ramps leading to and from the freeways is one lane wide, except for the ramp from eastbound I-290 to eastbound (southbound) I-90/94; this ramp is two lanes wide.
This interchange centers on Congress Parkway (the east–west surface street that is the continuation of the Eisenhower Expressway beyond its terminus several blocks east of the interchange) and extends roughly from Halsted Street on the west to Jefferson Street on the east.
The tracks of the Chicago Transit Authority Blue Line 'L' train pass directly underneath the center of the interchange, running in an east-west direction, as they transition from surface operation in the median of the Eisenhower Expressway, to a subway to the east of the Interchange. This complicates where support columns could be located in any future construction at this interchange.
Originally known as the Congress Interchange and changed to Circle Interchange in 1964, it was built in the late 1950s and early 1960s, at the same time as the construction of the Kennedy Expressway.
The University of Illinois at Chicago is to the southwest of the interchange. When the campus opened in 1965, it was called the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle, making it the only university in the world known to be named after a freeway interchange.
In a dedication ceremony held on August 29, 2014, this interchange, formerly called the Circle Interchange, was renamed the Jane Byrne Interchange in honor of former Chicago Mayor Jane M. Byrne (1979–1983). The market's radio and television traffic reporting services immediately instituted the interchange's new name, though many are going with a dual reference of the "Jane Byrne–Circle Interchange" to avert confusion.
In August 2012, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) began the planning and design phases for the potential rehabilitation of this interchange. It has established a project web site, which is being used to schedule public meetings. The April 3, 2013 Chicago Tribune featured a front-page article on the estimated $420 million project, which is slated to take four years. It began in late 2013, and when complete will see the replacement of the northbound I-90/I-94 to westbound I-290 ramp with a flyover ramp.
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