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The John F. Kennedy Expressway is a long highway that travels northwest from the Chicago Loop to O'Hare International Airportmarker. The Interstate 90 portion of the Kennedy is a part of the much longer I-90 (which runs from Boston, Massachusettsmarker to Seattle, Washingtonmarker). The Kennedy's official endpoints are the Circle Interchange with Interstate 290 (Eisenhower Expressway / Congress Parkway) and the Dan Ryan Expressway (also I-90/94) at the east end, and the O'Hare Airport terminals at the west end. The Interstate 190 portion of the Kennedy is long and is meant to serve airport traffic. Interstate 90 picks up the Kennedy destination and runs a further , before joining with I-94 for the final .

Traveling eastbound from O'Hare, the Kennedy interchanges with the eastern terminus of the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (Interstate 90) and with the Tri-State Tollway (Interstate 294) at a complex junction just west of Illinois Route 171 (Cumberland Avenue). The Kennedy later merges with the southern end of the Edens Expressway (Interstate 94) at Montrose Avenue; the Kennedy (at this point both I-90 and I-94) then turns south to its junction with the Dan Ryan and Eisenhower Expressways and Congress Parkway at the Circle Interchange in downtown Chicago.
An eastbound view of the Kennedy Expressway heading toward downtown Chicago.
With up to 327,000 vehicles traveling on some portions of the Kennedy daily, the Kennedy and its South Side extension, the Dan Ryan, are the busiest roads in Illinois.

History

The Kennedy was originally constructed along the route of Avondale Avenue, an existing diagonal street, and the northwest railroad corridor, in the late 1950s and completed on November 5, 1960. Originally named the Northwest Expressway for its general direction of travel, the Chicagomarker City Council voted unanimously on November 29, 1963 to rename the highway the John F. Kennedy Expressway.

The express was last reconstructed from 1992 through 1994. The existing express lanes, which previously were reversed by hand, were modernized. In addition, all aspects of the express lanes system were computerized, so that the process could be controlled at both ends from a central location. At least once a day, however, IDOT crews still examine the express lanes for debris while the lanes are still closed.

Features

[[Image:Kennedy Expwy Nov 08.JPG|thumb|200px|right|Southeastward view of the Kennedy Expressway from the [[Montrose (CTA Blue Line)|Montrose BlueLine Station]], with the reversible express lanes to the right of the tracks.]]


One feature of the Kennedy Expressway is the Chicago Transit Authority's Blue Line that lies in the median for about ten miles (16 km) from just south of Addison Street to just east of Mannheim Road. In 1984, the city of Chicago decided that to best serve the needs of the people regarding public transportation, a rapid transit line should be constructed in the median to O'Hare Airport instead of a fourth lane in both directions. This had been done previously in the early 1950s within the medians of the Eisenhower Expressway, and for the Dan Ryan Expressway in 1969. The decision proved to be wise, as the rail line is heavily traveled by commuters and travelers during the rush hour.

The second distinct feature of the Kennedy Expressway are its reversible express lanes where Interstate 94 merges into Interstate 90. The reversible lanes lie in the median of the highway from the Kennedy Expressway/Edens Expressway junction until just north of the Loop (at Ohio street), a distance of about 8 miles (13 km). These reversible lanes allow 2 lanes of traffic to flow towards or away from the city, depending on the time of the day. The lanes are controlled by computers and verified by humans at a separate control center. Steel mesh barriers and breakaway gates prevent traffic from entering oncoming lanes. To date, there has never been a successful wrong-way vehicle incursion incident in the express lanes. See below for further information related to the timings of the reversible lanes.

The final distinct feature are the last two miles (3 km) — there are 9 exits in along mileposts 50 and 51, and the southbound exit to Interstate 290 and Congress Parkway is marked as exits 51H and I. While the density of interchanges is quite dangerous, the hazard is partially offset by the fact that exits are 500 feet (152 m) apart and on the right hand side, while entrances to the highway are also apart, but on the left side. In spite of the separated nature of the interchanges, there is little to no acceleration zone on the entrance ramps, and traffic on the ramps cannot see mainline traffic until the last fifty feet (15 m) of the ramp. Many believe that these factors make these entrances unsafe, and avoid them. Because of these factors, the speed limit is still 45 mph (70 km/h) in this area. In December 2005, as part of replacing the Washington Street bridge, the city of Chicago closed its entrance ramps to the Kennedy as a safety measure while still allowing access to the expressway from the West Loop. A major construction project to revamp these so called 'suicide ramps' was started in 2009.

The Kennedy Expressway was the location of a large Magikist lips flashing sign which was a Chicagomarker pop culture icon for many years. Located at the southeast corner where Montrose Avenue abutted the expressway, the sign was torn down in 2004.

Exit list

The entire road is in Cook Countymarker.
Location Mile # Destinations Notes
See I-190 for the continuation towards O'Hare Airportmarker
Rosemontmarker 1.79 1D  – Indianamarker
1.81 1C  – Milwaukeemarker, Rockfordmarker Eastbound exit and westbound entrance
2.24 1 River Road (9400 West) Signed as exits 1A (north) and 1B (south) eastbound
Chicagomarker 3.07 , Milwaukeemarker Westbound exit and eastbound entrance
79 Signed as exits 79A (south) and 79B (north)
80 Canfield Road (7900 West) Westbound exit and eastbound entrance
81A
81B Sayre Avenue (7000 West) Westbound exit and eastbound entrance
82A Nagle Avenue (6432 West) No westbound exit
82B Bryn Mawr Avenue (5600 North) Westbound exit only
82C Austin Avenue (6000 West) Eastbound exit only
83A Foster Avenue (5200 North) No eastbound exit
83B Central Avenue (5600 West) Westbound exit and eastbound entrance
84 Lawrence Avenue (4800 North) Signed to Interstate 94 West; Wisconsinmarker
West end of I-94 overlap; west end of express lanes
 – Milwaukeemarker Westbound exit and eastbound entrance; Kennedy Expressway takes exit 43B from I-94; colloquially known as The Junction
43C Montrose Avenue (4400 North) Westbound exit and eastbound entrance
43D Kostner Avenue (4400 West) Westbound exit only
44A (4200 West) No westbound exit
44B Westbound exit and eastbound entrance
45A Addison Street (3600 North)
45B Kimball Avenue (3400 West)
45C Belmont Avenue (3200 North) Westbound exit and eastbound entrance
Sacramento Avenue (3000 West) Eastbound entrance only
46A California Avenue (2800 West) Eastbound exit and westbound entrance
46B Diversey Avenue (2800 North) Westbound exit only and eastbound entrance
47A Fullerton Avenue (2400 North), Western Avenue Western Avenue has only a westbound exit and an eastbound entrance. The exit splits off from the westbound entrance from Fullerton; similarly, the entrance merges with the eastbound exit to Fullerton. Consequently, all traffic wishing to move between the Kennedy and Western Avenue must first cross Fullerton.
47B Damen Avenue (2000 West) Westbound exit and eastbound entrance
48A Armitage Avenue (2000 North)
48B
49A Division Street (1200 North)
49B Augusta Boulevard (1000 North), Milwaukee Avenue Westbound exit and eastbound entrance
50A Ogden Avenue (1200 West) Eastbound exit and westbound entrance
East end of express lanes
50B Ohio Street east (Ohio/Ontario Feeder) (600 North)
51A Lake Street (200 North) Westbound exit only
51B Randolph Street west (150 North) Westbound entrance & exit, Eastbound exit only
51C Washington Boulevard east (100 North) Both entrance ramps have been demolished
51D Madison Street (0 North/South)
51E Monroe Street (100 South) Right exits, no entrances
51F Adams Street west (200 South) Eastbound exit and westbound entrance
51G Jackson Boulevard east (300 South) Eastbound exit and westbound entrance
51H

 – West Suburbs
Eastbound exit and westbound entrance
51I Congress Parkway – Chicago Loopmarker (500 South) Eastbound exit and westbound entrance
 – Indianamarker Continuation beyond I-290


References

  1. Hilkevitch, John. Buckle up, it looks like a long ride. Chicago Tribune. Published March 26, 2006. Retrieved March 26, 2006.


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