A years-long Kennedy Expressway construction project is slated to kick off next week, marking the beginning of what will be a series of lane closures for the highly-trafficked roadway.

Officials have been warning for weeks about the potential for “major delays” due to the upcoming roadwork, urging drivers to look for alternative routes if they’re planning to use the expressway.

The massive construction project will begin closing lanes on a popular stretch of the roadway starting March 20 — and the closures are slated to impact traffic both inbound and outbound through 2025.

Here’s what you need to know if you drive on the expressway:

What to Know About the Project

The $150 million project will affect drivers from the Edens Expressway junction to Ohio Street in either direction, the Illinois Department of Transportation said.

The project will involve rehabbing 36 bridge structures and the reversible lane access control system, replacing overhead sign structures, installing new signs and LED lights, patching pavement, painting structures and repainting Hubbard’s Cave from Grand Avenue to Wayman Street.

“The project will improve safety, traffic flow and reliability for the more than 275,000 motorists who use the expressway each day,” IDOT said in a release.

Officials said “major travel delays are anticipated” and “alternative routes are strongly encouraged.”

The work is expected to be done in three stages.

Stage 1

The first stage will affect the inbound Kennedy, closing two main lanes of the expressway at a time, though reversible express lanes “will remain open in the inbound direction.”

“Motorists should expect lane shifts and overnight lane closure, along with various ramp closures,” IDOT said.

Project engineers told NBC 5 traffic reporter Kye Martin that first to close will be the two left inbound lanes, which will close from March to July. Then, the two right inbound lanes will be blocked from July to November with open paths to exit and enter at all exits. On weekends and overnight, exit closures are probable.

This summer, painting and new lighting installation will begin on inbound Hubbard’s Cave, between Ohio and Lake Streets. That work is expected to be completed this fall, with all lanes and ramps reopening and the express lanes resuming normal operations at that time.

Stage 2

The second stage will see changes for the reversible express lanes, which will be closed beginning in spring 2024 and is slated to be completed in fall of 2024. In addition, mainline lane closures will also be seen in both directions of Hubbard’s Cave between Ohio and Lake Streets.

Stage 3

The third stage will see the reversible express lanes open in the outbound direction while two main outbound lanes of the roadway will be closed at a time.

“Lane shifts and overnight lane closure, along with various ramp closures will be needed to complete the work,” the Illinois Department of Transportation said.

Additionally, outbound Hubbard’s Cave between Ohio and Lake streets will be impacted.

This stage is slated to begin in spring 2025 and finish in late fall 2025.

“Motorists should expect significant delays and allow extra time for trips through this area,” IDOT said in a release.

What to Know About the Kennedy Expressway

The Kennedy Expressway has been officially open since November 1960, but according to IDOT, the last major rehab project on the roadway was completed in 1994.

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