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Gov. Pritzker Celebrates Historic Completion of Jane Byrne Interchange in Chicago

Press Release - Wednesday, December 14, 2022

One of the largest projects ever undertaken by the state wraps up, improving safety, congestion, and travel options at key transportation hub

CHICAGO — Gov. JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) joined local officials and community leaders today to celebrate the completion of the Jane Byrne Interchange reconstruction, a multiyear effort to modernize a key gateway into downtown Chicago and a critical transportation hub for the region and entire Midwest. One of the biggest projects in state history, the new-and-improved Jane Byrne Interchange eliminates a notorious national bottleneck and improves safety, efficiency, and mobility across multiple modes of transportation while better connecting people and jobs throughout the Chicago area.

"Today, I'm proud to announce the reconstruction of the Jane Byrne Interchange is finally completed," said Governor JB Pritzker. "For almost a decade, Illinois' first-rate workforce worked day in and day out to entirely reconstruct this massive project. And in the last few years, IDOT accelerated and streamlined the construction process to get this done — and the great men and women of Illinois' construction industry persevered. They are the ones who made this happen. I know I speak for all of Illinois when I say that we couldn't be more grateful for the labor and dedication of every single worker on this project."

"The Jane Byrne Interchange is not only a major connector for transportation but also connects communities that have unique businesses, histories, and cultural venues," said Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton. "This rebuild project utilized the diverse, skilled talents of the hardworking men and women of IDOT. I commend them for this massive undertaking and for ensuring that Illinoisans can get where they need to go efficiently, with safe access to essential transportation routes that bridge neighborhoods."

The $806.4 million project is the first major rehabilitation of the Jane Byrne since it was originally constructed more than 60 years ago. The final pieces of the project will conclude this week, weather permitting, with the opening of a second lane on the ramps connecting the inbound Eisenhower to the outbound Kennedy and Dan Ryan as well as the ramps connecting Jackson Boulevard and Adams Street to the outbound Kennedy. A fourth lane on the Dan Ryan and Kennedy lanes through the interchange also are due to open this week.

The finished product is predicted to result in a 50% reduction in vehicle delays, saving motorists an annual 5 million hours previously spent sitting in traffic and $185 million in productivity. Vehicle emissions are anticipated to reduce by a third, with annual gas consumption decreasing by 1.6 million gallons a year. Crashes are predicted to go down 25%.

A tri-level interchange situated between the city's central business district, the University of Illinois Chicago campus, and the vibrant Greektown neighborhood, the Jane Byrne connects travelers from the Kennedy and Dan Ryan expressways (Interstate 90/94) and the Eisenhower Expressway (Interstate 290) with the principal route in and out of Chicago in Ida B. Wells Drive. The interchange also serves as a local travel corridor for businesses, residences and other attractions via neighborhood streets, the Chicago Transit Authority and bike and pedestrian accommodations.

"The Jane Byrne Interchange was one of the most complex projects in the country and most significant ever at IDOT. I'm proud and happy that we could deliver these improvements and benefits," said Illinois Transportation Secretary Omer Osman. "I wish to thank the public and our stakeholders for their input and patience throughout construction. Working together, we have created an asset for the city and the state that will last for generations."

Named after Jane Byrne to honor the former Chicago mayor and the first woman elected to lead a major American city, the interchange serves almost 400,000 vehicles a day, one out of four of those being trucks. Prior to its reconstruction, the interchange struggled to perform under its original 1958 design, resulting in congestion for the majority of the day and frequent unsafe conditions. The American Transportation Research Institute and the Federal Highway Administration at one point rated the interchange the country's No. 1 bottleneck for freight.

Construction started on the new Jane Byrne in 2013 with the Morgan Street bridge, the first of 10 bridges carrying local traffic that needed to be rebuilt to accommodate the interchange's reconfigured footprint. To keep the interchange open to traffic throughout construction, the project was separated into 35 separate pieces and contracts to best manage sequencing and staging.

The project used approximately 52 million pounds of steel, the equivalent of 2.5 times the weight of the Eiffel Tower, as well as 2,100 miles of rebar, the distance between Chicago and San Francisco. More than 223,000 cubic yards of concrete were required, which would fill 25,000 trucks. Installed were 12 miles of storm sewer, enough to connect Wrigley Field and O'Hare International Airport. More details and other facts can be found at

Improvements and benefits include:
  • A total of 19 bridges and 21 ramps reconstructed or rehabilitated.
  • A new northbound collector-distributor road on the Dan Ryan and Kennedy expressways to reduce conflict points as well as frequent weaving and merging by relocating the left-hand entrance ramps at Jackson and Adams streets and separating the exits ramps to Washington Boulevard, Lake, Madison, and Randolph streets from mainline traffic.
  • A new storm water detention system under the Polk Street accident investigation site, providing additional storage capacity for runoff during rain events, helping to reduce localized flooding.
  • An additional lane in each direction to the mainline Kennedy and Dan Ryan, increasing capacity and reducing congestion.
  • An additional lane to the inbound Eisenhower ramp to the outbound Kennedy and to the inbound Dan Ryan flyover ramp to the outbound Eisenhower.
  • Wider ramps to replace single-lane ramps with no shoulders, providing additional room for first responders and stalled vehicles.
  • Local bridges rebuilt with either wider sidewalks, bike lanes or both at Harrison, Morgan,
  • Taylor and Halsted streets as well as Jackson Boulevard, meeting the goals of the Chicago Department of Transportation's Chicago Streets for Cycling plan.
  • Peoria Street bridge rebuilt as an expansive walkway, with the Blue Line's UIC-Halsted station rehabilitated and an elevator added to provide access for customers with disabilities. A bus-only lane was added to Van Buren Street.
  • New LED lighting and improved signage for easier navigation, along with reconstructed or rehabilitated retaining and noise walls throughout the project area.
  • A $10 million expansion of green spaces, including retaining wall vines, aesthetic upgrades, landscaping and tree plantings.
The timeline and estimated cost to rebuild the Jane Byrne expanded since the planning stages due to a variety of factors. They include: limiting overnight and weekend construction to minimize effects on the public; staggering inbound and outbound Eisenhower improvements by separate years to lessen impact on traffic; and proceeding with an emergency project to rebuild the Stevenson Expressway (Interstate 55) and DuSable Lake Shore Drive interchange and suspending elements of the Jane Byrne to avoid having two entry points in and out of the city under construction at the same time.

Under Gov. Pritzker's leadership and directive to improve on keeping costs and schedules consistent throughout projects, IDOT is delivering the Jane Byrne according to projections committed to the governor in 2019.

Additionally, in keeping with Gov. Pritzker's commitment to create opportunity through investing in infrastructure and build a diverse workforce, IDOT exceeded the participation goal on the Jane Byrne for minority- and female-owned businesses involved in the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program. The initial goal of 18.23% for minority- and female-owned firms with contracts on the project was surpassed and reached 19.54%, representing a total value of $117.6 million to disadvantaged and emerging businesses. The project also provided thousands of hours in on-the-job training through the Highway Construction Careers Training Program, which pairs with local community colleges to help prepare minority groups, disadvantaged persons and women for careers in the construction trades.

"The ability to transport people and goods has long been a strength that set Illinois apart," said Illinois Senate President Don Harmon (D-Oak Park). "The ability to finally wrap up this project after so many delays is a testament to a new leadership in our state that is focused on getting things done and moving Illinois forward. I want to thank the thousands of skilled trade workers who brought this project to conclusion. And I want to thank everyone involved at the local, state and federal level for recognizing this project as a priority, seeing it through and finally making this transportation gateway to our future a reality. And I especially want to thank the motoring public who patiently put up with nearly a decade's worth of construction delays to get us to this point."

"Today's celebration is decades in the making," said House Speaker Emanuel "Chris" Welch (D-Hillside). "Construction may have begun a few years ago on the Jane Byrne Interchange, but it hasn't received any major improvements since the 1950s. I'm grateful to see the completion of this important infrastructure project as we work to reduce congested traffic and harmful emissions, while also making our local streets more pedestrian and bicycle friendly."

"More than 35 separate projects went into rebuilding the Jane Byrne Interchange. I am proud of the hardworking men and women who made it happen," said State Senator Ram Villivalam, (D-Chicago), Chair of the Senate Transportation Committee. "Soon, the more than 400,000 daily commuters who rely on the interchange will see their commutes improved with reconnected neighborhoods and enhanced access to transit. These improvements will ensure that Chicagoans in every neighborhood have reliable access to transportation and the opportunities that come with it."

"The improvements made to the Jane Byrne Interchange will increase driver safety and improve the flow of traffic," said State Representative Marty Moylan, (D-Des Plaines). "As the Chair of the Transportation: Regulation, Roads Committee, I know the completion of this project is due in no small part to the efforts of officials at all levels of government. I thank my colleagues and Gov. Pritzker for their support in getting this project across the finish line, and I look forward to seeing the interchange improvements at work."

"The challenges of rebuilding the Jane Byrne Interchange will be swiftly outstripped by the long-term gains of more rapid, less congested driving that this brings to Chicago," said State Representative Lakesia Collins, (D-Chicago). "This project will not simply cut back on commute times for many Chicagoans, it will speed up deliveries for the thousands of trucks that use the Jane Byrne Interchange everyday and ensure a stronger supply chain for all of Illinois. I look forward to seeing these benefits take effect."

"After almost 10 years, the vision for Chicago's extraordinary interchange is becoming a reality, which will affect hundreds of thousands of commuters," said State Senator Patricia Van Pelt, (D-Chicago). "Despite challenges with reconstruction, bridges have been rebuilt and reopened, minimizing traffic impacts one expressway at a time."

"The Jane Byrne Interchange connects drivers with the neighborhoods, local businesses and attractions that make Chicago one of the best cities in the world," said Assistant Majority Leader Elizabeth Hernandez, (D-Cicero). "I am eager to see how the completion of this years long project improves roadway safety for all types of travelers, and I am grateful to my colleagues and Gov. Pritzker for their leadership."

"Upgrading Illinois' infrastructure will help grow business investment in the state and create thousands of good paying jobs for our sisters and brothers in labor," said Senator Cunningham (D-Chicago).

"The nightmare of the Jane Byrne Interchange has been an understood reality for commuters living and coming into the city of Chicago. Under the leadership of Gov. Pritzker, we've used our creative minds to improve our infrastructure—all while getting Chicagoans where they need to go quickly and efficiently," said Assistant Majority Leader Marcus C. Evans, Jr, (D-Chicago). "Chicago is the premier transportation hub of the nation and actions taken to improve this interchange will improve the lives of commuters by getting them home quicker to enjoy their families, saving businesses millions of dollars, and slashing the dreaded urban traffic tax."

"It is exciting to be nearing the completion of this project, which has been in the works since 2013," said State Senate Majority Leader Mattie Hunter, (D-Chicago). "Finally, on the most famous interchange in Chicago, communities will be reconnected with enhanced traffic and mobility operations, reduced congestion and improved safety on roadways."

"Through almost 10 years of quality reconstruction efforts on the Jane Byrne Interchange, the state has created a more equitable transportation system that will connect people to jobs, resources and services to improve access to opportunity," said Senate Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford (D-Maywood). "From a massive reduction in congestion to a great amount of savings on gas, Chicago residents and tourists alike will benefit greatly from the completion on this unique, stand-out project."

"The Jane Byrne Interchange connects all corners of Chicago to the heart of the city," said State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins, (D-Chicago). "Improving this essential transportation hub will ensure that communities across our city have greater access to the jobs and opportunities needed to provide economic stability for their families."

"My hat is off to the talented teams of all the agencies at the state and local levels, and the engagement of neighbors in proximity to the site, in achieving this milestone for the Jane Byrne Interchange," said Assistant Senate Majority Leader Linda Holmes (D-Aurora). "The collaborators found solutions to traffic congestion, safety concerns, air quality and increasing green spaces, and pedestrian and bicycle-friendly access for now and in the future."

"The completion of the Jane Byrne Interchange is an example of organized labor, businesses, neighborhoods, and elected officials coming together to prioritize and create good-paying, equitable jobs for Illinois workers," said Illinois AFL-CIO President Tim Drea. "Together, we invested in a long overdue infrastructure upgrade that will usher Illinois into the 21st century and benefit future generations of Illinoisans."

Motorists should still expect occasional, temporary lane closures in the coming weeks to complete miscellaneous electrical work and other punch list items. Drivers are urged to pay close attention to flaggers and signs in the work zones, obey the posted speed limits and remain alert for workers and equipment. Painting of the Ida B. Wells Drive bridge and landscaping of the interchange area will start in the spring with minimal traffic impacts.

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