Frequently Asked Questions
When was the interchange originally constructed?
The Jane Byrne Interchange (previously called the Circle Interchange) began construction in the 1950s and was completed in the 1960s. There have been no major improvements made to the Jane Byrne Interchange since construction began in the 1950’s; however, maintenance and repairs have been made to extend the service life of the interchange roadway pavement and ramp bridge decks and structures.
When was the Circle Interchange renamed the Jane Byrne Interchange?
A dedication ceremony was held on August 29, 2014 to rename the interchange the Jane Byrne Interchange in honor of former Chicago Mayor Jane M. Byrne (1979-1983).
When did construction begin on the Jane Byrne Interchange project?
Construction began to reconstruct the Jane Byrne Interchange (Circle Interchange at the time) in late 2013 by reconstructing the Morgan Street bridge.
Who funds this project?
The planning (Phase I) and the design (Phase II) phases are funded by the Illinois Department of Transportation. The construction phase (Phase III) is mostly funded by the Federal Government with a match from the State of Illinois.
Why is construction taking so long?
There are many challenges that make reconstruction of the Jane Byrne Interchange especially difficult including:
- Rebuilding a better, larger interchange in the same footprint as the existing interchange. Considerations for working in the existing footprint include the CTA Blue Line, Cermak pump station, underground water tunnels, and poor soil conditions.
- Maintaining the 400,000 vehicles of traffic that pass through the interchange on a daily basis and surface street pedestrian, bicycle, and transit connections between the West Loop, Greektown, the UIC campus, and other local neighborhoods throughout construction.
- Being mindful of other interchange projects so there is not more than one major expressway leading traffic in and out of the city inoperable at the same time.
- Like any major construction projects, unforeseen conditions can pop up. The remnants of long forgotten Chicago continue to be found buried within this project, including an abandoned brick water tunnel that has been encountered in numerous construction projects.
- Work restrictions including contract requirements that limit how often a contractor is allowed to close a ramp or lane, taking noise into consideration when performing nighttime work, and weekend limitations that cause construction to halt due to events taking place in downtown Chicago can each have an impact on the construction schedule. There are 35 weekends out of the year that are considered “black out” weekends where construction cannot happen during those weekends.
- Unique challenges have made reconstruction difficult as well. One example of this includes the relocation and rehabilitation of abandoned water supply tunnels.
How many separate contracts make up the Jane Byrne Interchange project?
Reconstruction for the Jane Byrne Interchange project was so massive that it was broken up into 35 separate contracts, or projects. To view progress photos and read about each project in more depth, please visit the Projects page.
How many contracts have been completed so far?
Currently there are 17 contracts that have been completed. Read more about the completed projects here.
What is the approach for construction?
Construction will be completed in three stages. The first stage, Stage 1 was to focus on reconstructing the cross-road bridges. Stage 2 focuses on I-290/Ida B. Wells Drive and Stage 3 focuses on I-90/94. We are currently in Stage 2 of construction.
How many lanes will I-90/94 have once construction is completed?
Once construction is complete, I-90/94 will be operating with 4 lanes in each direction. Additionally, the ramp from northbound I-90/94 to westbound I-290 (North-to-West Ramp) and the ramp from eastbound I-290 to northbound I-90/94 (East-to-North Ramp) will both expand to two lanes. These two ramps are the most congested ramps within the Jane Byrne Interchange.
When will the Jane Byrne Interchange construction be complete?
Construction is anticipated to be complete by the end of 2022.
How can I stay updated on the project?
There are several ways to stay updated on the construction progress. One way is following @TheJaneByrne on Facebook and Twitter. You can also check us out on LinkedIn and visit the website regularly for updates.
How can I find out about closures and upcoming roadwork?
You can sign up for our mailing list here. By signing up for the mailing list, you can stay updated on upcoming work, announcements pertaining to the project, and other future impacts that might affect your commute.
Were there any land acquisitions for this project?
There were very minimal land acquisitions needed for the Jane Byrne Interchange project. Most of the interchange improvements fit in the same area (footprint) as the existing constrained interchange.
Why can’t the interchange be shut down and construction sped up for an accelerated completion date?
The overall interchange project area maintains 400,000 vehicles daily. Closing the interchange and roads connecting to the Jane Byrne Interchange completely to speed up construction would be detrimental to the area’s transportation network and would have an enormous economic impact to the area. Construction must work around existing traffic and the numerous City of Chicago events held throughout the year to cause the least amount of disruption possible.
Why is the approach to reconstructing the Jane Byrne Interchange project considered “unique”?
The approach is considered “unique” because design continues throughout the construction process. For example, during Stage 1 of construction, which focused on cross road bridges, design for Stage 2 which focused on I-290/Ida B. Wells Drive was ongoing. This process continues - as Stage 2 is under construction, design for Stage 3 (I-90/94) progresses. Normally, before construction begins, the design phase has already been completed for all components of the project.
What are some overall benefits of the new Jane Byrne Interchange?
- By the year 2040, an anticipated 50% reduction in delay for all vehicles over the course of the day
- Reduction on over 5 million hours annually of drivers sitting in congested traffic
- Regional savings of over $620K daily and over $185 million annually in lost production from delayed travelers
- Reductions in vehicle idling resulting in over 5,500 gallons of gasoline saved daily and over 1.6 million gallons annually
What kind of benefits will the new Jane Byrne Interchange bring to the surrounding communities?
- Reduced emissions and improved quality of life
- Making the local street system more pedestrian and bicycle friendly, and enhancing local quality of life
- For the cross-street bridges that will be reconstructed by the project, IDOT is providing:
- Bicycle lanes in accordance with the City’s master bike-way plan
- Wider sidewalks (typically 10 feet) to improve pedestrian movements
- Reconstruction creates additional green space around the expressway (Peoria Street, Greektown corner, Haberdasher, Rice Building, etc.)
- More than 4,400 trees, 2,900 shrubs, 17,000 perennials, 27 acres of seeding, 11,500 vines and 64,000 bulbs have or will be planted.
How will the new Jane Byrne Interchange improve safety?
- Reduce predicted number of crashes by up to 25%
- Southbound traffic heading to Taylor Street will exit north of the interchange which will enhance safety by eliminating weaving at the Taylor Street intersection
- Northbound traffic heading to one of the four downtown street ramps will exit I-90/94 south of the interchange and avoid mixing with traffic entering from I-290 and Ida B. Wells (Congress Parkway). It will be physically separated from mainline I-90/94 by a barrier wall.
- Access to the Morgan Street exit will only be available for traffic traveling from Northbound I-90/94 to Westbound I-290. The elimination of the weaving and merging in this area will enhance traffic flow and safety.
Will the new Jane Byrne Interchange improve aesthetics?
Yes. The new Jane Byrne Interchange will use decorative/patterned concrete on the parapet walls, bridge piers, and retaining walls; vines will be planted on retaining walls (where feasible) to soften the concrete look and to discourage graffiti; and green spaces behind retaining walls will be created for community spaces and adjacent building resident use.