O'HARE — The Kennedy Expy. will get an additional lane in each direction between Cumberland and Harlem avenues to relieve major congestion that has contributed to an accident every 36 hours during the last several years, according to state officials.
Construction is underway on a fourth eastbound lane on the Kennedy between Cumberland and Harlem avenues in an effort to speed traffic headed toward the Loop from Interstate 190, which connects the Kennedy with O'Hare Airport, officials said.
The first of three phases — with a $22.9 million price tag — is expected to be completed in November 2017, with the bulk of the work scheduled for next spring and summer, according to a statement from the Illinois Department of Transportation.
Heather Cherone shares details on the Kennedy lane addition.
The work will force the closure of the shoulder of the inbound expressway through the O'Hare and Norwood Park neighborhoods as well as periodic lane closures as construction progresses, state officials said.
The project also will add a lane on the outbound Kennedy headed toward O'Hare Airport and build noise walls along both sides of the expressway to shield nearby homes from noise and pollution, state officials said.
The project's final two phases do not have a price tag, nor have they been funded or scheduled, state officials said.
The work is being funded with a combination of state and federal money, state officials said.
The widened expressway will come closer to nearby homes and businesses, which are in some cases just across a two-lane road from the current path of the expressway. The locations of the noise walls have not been finalized, state officials said.
But a noise wall on the south side of the expressway from Canfield Avenue to the Cumberland Avenue on-and-off ramps is not likely to be built because of opposition from nearby residents, state officials said.
Three shorter noise walls are likely to be built along the south side of the Kennedy between Harlem and Canfield avenues, state officials said.
On the north side of the Kennedy, four noise walls are set to be built, state officials said.
A yearlong study in 2014 of the 2-mile stretch of the Kennedy between Harlem and Cumberland avenues found it is frequently bumper-to-bumper with traffic before, during and after rush hour, and accidents happen all too frequently.
The Illinois Tollway plans to widen the Jane Addams Tollway by adding a lane in each direction, which will increase the amount of traffic merging onto the Kennedy near the city limits.
Between 2007 and 2011, there were 1,083 crashes on the Kennedy from I-190 and Harlem that caused 150 injuries and four deaths, state officials said. A crash typically occurred every 36 hours, most near the Cumberland and Harlem interchanges, officials said.
The additional lanes will minimize the number of times cars, trucks and motorcycles need to change lanes, preventing accidents, officials said.
Nearly 62 percent of the crashes on the Kennedy between I-190 and Harlem were rear-end collisions, and another 23 percent were sideswipe crashes. That indicates heavy congestion, officials said.
Sixty-four percent of the crashes happened on the inbound Kennedy, officials said.
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