Major fixes on the Kennedy, 'smart corridors' on routes 64 and 56 heading our way
By Marni Pyke
With the interminable Jane Byrne Interchange reconstruction terminating this year, the Illinois Department of Transportation is shifting gears to several projects of high interest to suburban drivers.
This includes major repairs to bridges and pavement on the Kennedy Expressway between the Edens Expressway and Ohio Street in Chicago.
And, routes 56 (Butterfield Road) and 64 (North Avenue), a pair of underwhelming but heavily used roads, will be transformed into "smart corridors."
Let's start with the Kennedy. The urban pipeline absorbs 275,000 vehicles daily and usage has worn down concrete on 36 bridges, built 50 years ago.
Sometimes, the aged expressway fights back. In October, IDOT coped with emergency repairs on two inbound lanes at Division Street that played havoc with traffic, officials said.
The state expects to spend $150 million reconstructing bridge decks and patching concrete pavement starting next year. Workers will also update equipment, such as gates for the reversible lanes; install new overhead signs, LED lighting and traffic detectors; and slap a fresh coat of paint on structures.
It takes about six weeks to rebuild a bridge from demolition to concrete hardening, which will mean (you guessed it) lane and ramp closures.
IDOT intends to repair the inbound lanes in 2023, switch to the reversibles in 2024 and finish with the outbound section in 2025. Two lanes of traffic will be closed at a time during construction with the reversible lanes helping to pick up slack in 2023 and 2025.
For an overview, go to idot.illinois.gov/projects/interstate-90-kennedy-bridge-study.
Meanwhile, the state is re-imagining routes 56 and 64 in DuPage and Cook counties as smart corridors.
The improvements include: traffic signal upgrades to modernize the corridors, synchronizing signals, dynamic message signs in strategic spots, and accommodations for pedestrians, officials said.
The Route 64 revamp stretches between Smith/Kautz Road and Route 50 (Cicero Avenue); the Route 56 redo runs from Route 59 to York Street.
For walkers and transit users, upgrades to sidewalks, crosswalks and pedestrian signals are coming, plus new, strategically located bus stops that expedite traffic flow.
"The long-range idea is to get those corridors working as efficiently as possible and to help support transit and buses," IDOT District 1 Program Development Engineer John Baszek said.
The estimated budget is $30 million for both corridors in 2020 dollars, but it's anticipated that cost will rise with inflation. Work kicks off in 2024 and continues in 2025.
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In the wake of a July 10 bicycle crash that killed a Lake County nurse, avid cyclist Wayne Mikes of Palatine writes: "I frequently hear about cyclists getting hit or killed riding their bike, but it generally seems that the driver involved is seldom charged with any offense. I know there is a law that cars must give cyclists 3 feet of space when passing, but can the driver be charged with driving too close or unable to avoid an accident?"
Lake County Deputy Chief Chris Covelli responded: "Any crash that involves a fatality or critical injuries, which is investigated by our team, goes through an exhaustive investigation. Following that investigation, we review all of the facts and circumstances of the incident with the Lake County State's Attorney's Office. In nearly every case, at a minimum, traffic citations are issued to the at-fault driver. This includes crashes involving bicyclists when the driver of a vehicle is at-fault."