Tag Archives: expressway

Plan to ease Eisenhower congestion calls for tolls, car pool lane

(CHICAGO) Drivers who want an express trip down the Eisenhower Expy. will have to join a carpool or pay a toll, according to the latest plans to expand and improve Chicago’s oldest and second busiest stretch of highway.

State transportation officials have unveiled a “High-Occupancy Toll” lane, in which drivers would have an average speed of 45 miles per hour — light speed compared to the current pace of traffic on the Ike (Interstate 290) during peak times, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.

The $2.7 billion plan, which is not likely to see construction begin before 2020, also would add a lane in each direction between the key bottleneck span of I-290, between Mannheim Road and Austin Boulevard.

The “HOT” lane is key to providing reliable travel times on often-stalled stretches of the expressway, said Pete Harmet, the engineer heading the Eisenhower project. The lane would be open to cars carrying three or more passengers, buses and those willing to pay tolls that would rise and fall based on rush hours.

Traffic would move 56 percent faster in the HOT lanes and shave 25 percent of travel times in the three standard lanes, Harmet said.

“One of the key points is a reliable trip, a predictable trip,” Harmet said. “Right now, sometimes it can take a long time, and sometimes it can take longer.”

Similar carpool-toll lanes have been installed in California and Florida, where riders either register their cars as carpool vehicles or use a special transponder, like an I-PASS, to assess tolls while driving. Toll revenue would go toward maintenance and improvements on I-290, which has been toll-free since it opened in the 1950s, Harmet said.

Carpool-toll lanes have been successful at relieving congestion, but they are politically volatile proposals, said Joseph Schwieterman, director of the Chaddick Center for Metropolitan Development at DePaul University.

Drivers reflexively dislike the idea of paying tolls, and they hate watching cars zip past them in carpool lanes, Schwieterman said. But they don’t realize that the prospect of paying tolls and the incentive of carpooling reduces the overall number of cars on the road — and speeds up travel for everyone.

“It’s not an easy sell, even though the congestion problems are going to get worse,” Schwieterman said.

The Eisenhower is built in a “trough” in a densely populated area, so it is difficult to see how acquiring more land to expand the expressway could be politically palatable. Solutions that have been suggested, like building a double-decker highway, are costly and won’t necessarily alleviate long-term travel concerns. Reducing the number of cars on the expressway is likely the best option, Schwieterman said.

“It amazes me that people are willing to accept a dysfunctional Eisenhower, with no real plan to improve it,” he said.

The IDOT plan also would move left-side exits at Austin and Harlem that further slow traffic. It also includes an extension of the Blue Line’s Forest Park spur to Mannheim.

IDOT will release a draft environmental impact report on Dec. 30, and will submit a final draft sometime after a 45-day period for public comments and a pair of public hearings. A combination of state and federal funding would pay the cost of the $2.7 billion project, the largest on the expressway since massive renovations to the Hillside corridor in the early 2000s.

Paying for the Need for Speed

By Bill Cameron, WLS News

There’s a new idea to help move traffic faster on the expressways.

How would feel about paying a toll to use a faster lane on a freeway like the Stevenson or Eisenhower?

At the City Club, Illinois Tollway Chairman Bob Schillerstrom was talking up the idea.

“From everything we can hear people are very supportive of these.  If you wanted to come down here like I did today on the Eisenhower and you didn’t want to be late it would have been a very good investment for me to have a managed lane and also made me a little bit less worried about getting here in a timely fashion,” said Schillerstrom.  “So, managed lanes are on the very, you know, top of our list and you know hopefully, we can have some for you to try, on the Stevenson, in the near future.”

But there are bureaucratic roadblocks to clear, like the feds not wanting to let states start charging for the freeways they mostly paid for.

@ 2015 WLS News

Kennedy Outbound Lanes Shut Down After Shooting

(8:25am) Updates from Sun Times Media

(CHICAGO) Lanes were reopened three hours after shots were fired early Monday on the outbound Kennedy Expressway on the Northwest Side.

The shots were fired from a blue Chevy Trailblazer from a white Toyota Camry at 5:15 a.m. near Sayre Avenue, according to Illinois State Police.

There were a couple bullet holes in the Camry, but no one was struck, police said.

Lanes remained closed until about 8:15 a.m.


By John Dempsey, WLS News

(CHICAGO) Illinois State Police have shut down all lanes of the outbound Kennedy this morning at the Kennedy Edens junction, after a shooting early this morning.  State Police say someone shot a on the outbound Kennedy at Sayre.   The person in the car was unharmed, but the car was struck and the offender fled. The car is no longer on the expressway.

As police investigate the shooting they are diverting all outbound Kennedy traffic onto the Edens.    Drivers are able to get back on to the outbound Kennedy at Harlem.

There have been a rash of expressway shootings so far this year in Chicago.    Police say gang members have been following their rivals onto highways to shoot them, because they feel it’s easier to blend into traffic and get away.

© Copyright 2015 WLS-AM

Major work to start March 7 on Jane Byrne Interchange; project to last 16 months

(CHICAGO) Drivers approaching the Jane Byrne Interchange — now one of the nation’s worst bottlenecks — will face a spaghetti bowl of detours and reduced lanes for more than a year after construction begins March 7 on a flyover bridge, the Sun-Times is reporting.

Needing a stiff dose of patience until at least the summer of 2016 will be:

— South Siders taking the Dan Ryan Expressway (Interstate 90/94) into the Loop;

— Folks traveling back and forth from west of the city to downtown on the Stevenson Expressway (I-55);

— Drivers switching from the inbound Ryan to the outbound Eisenhower Expressway (I-290).

They will soon face ramp lane or road lane reductions and even some detours during the next phase of the $475 million overhaul of the interchange — a connection point crossed by 400,000 drivers daily.

But by far, experts say, the biggest logjam will hit over four weekends sometime this summer or fall. That’s when workers will install beams of the long-awaited flyover that will connect the inbound Ryan with the outbound Eisenhower. The exact weekends have not yet been identified.

During the worst two of those weekends, all lanes of the Eisenhower on either side of the Ryan will be shut down, and 1-mile to nearly 2-mile sections of the Ryan approaching or leaving downtown will be limited to one lane in each direction, Illinois Department of Transportation officials say.

“It won’t be pretty,” said Tom Kaeser, a former senior traffic engineer for the Chicago Department of Transportation.

“I’m sure that IDOT and CDOT will publicize this a lot and urge everyone to avoid using these roadways, as they did during the Ohio-Ontario ramp removal work along the Kennedy” Expressway in June 2014.

“Anyone who is aware of these closures and still tries to drive through will have only themselves to blame if they get stuck in traffic,” Kaeser said.

IDOT is still working with the city to schedule those four weekends of work, IDOT spokeswoman Carson Quinn said. Chicago is buzzing with festivals in July, August and even September, when the Chicago Bears’ regular season starts.

Also hard hit may be fans of the White Sox and Bulls and Bears because their stadiums are close to the work zone.

Over the first two weekends of work, the inbound Ryan will be reduced to one lane, tentatively, from Canalport to Van Buren — or for about 15 blocks; the outbound Ryan will be narrowed to one lane from roughly Lake Street to Harrison — or for about eight blocks.

Those same two weekends, the outbound Eisenhower will be completely inaccessible via Congress Parkway, and inbound travelers will have to exit the Eisenhower before the Ryan, possibly around Ashland, Quinn said.

On the final two weekends, only outbound Eisenhower and outbound Ryan traffic will face closures or lane reductions.

The less severe changes that begin March 7 will stretch on “until summer 2016,” according to IDOT.

That means for about 16 months, South Side travelers heading from the Ryan into the Loop will hit ramp detour signs starting at Roosevelt. Drivers moving from the Stevenson to the Ryan, or vice versa, will deal with lane reductions on ramps and roadways.

The heavily traveled inbound Ryan connection with the Eisenhower will see drivers directed to a temporary road.

“Since we are shifting the inbound Dan Ryan lanes toward the median using a little tighter lanes, we will build a small runaround or connection to connect the outer lane of the inbound Ryan to the existing flyover, which [will continue] to be used until the new flyover is built,’’ Quinn said in an emailed statement.

“We are talking about a couple of hundred feet of roadway to complete the gap and allow traffic to exit safely.”

When the misery ends, the Jane Byrne Interchange flyover will replace the existing single-lane ramp from the inbound Ryan to the outbound Eisenhower with a milelong ramp, starting at Roosevelt, and a two-lane bridge.

Better yet, IDOT officials say, it should reduce traffic delays by at least 50 percent.

More information on the four-year project, including a live-stream of construction work, can be found at www.CircleInterchange.org.


© Copyright 2015 Sun-Times Media, LLC