Chicago to get its own “Carmageddon” on the Kennedy in June

Major repair work on the Kennedy in June is being dubbed Chicago’s own Carmageddon:

Chicago-area drivers are being urged to steer clear of the downtown stretch of the Kennedy Expressway during the last three weekends in June, officials said Thursday. That’s when bridge demolition on the Kennedy interchange at Ohio and Ontario streets will require shutting down expressway lanes, first in the inbound direction, then outbound and finally the Ohio and Ontario feeder ramps…

Officials hope the stern warning will help prevent hourslong snarls along the expressway that carries an average of 260,000 vehicles a day, avoiding what some traffic engineers have referred to a “carmageddon.”…

The work to tear down sections of the bridge, drop the concrete pieces onto the Kennedy and haul away the debris is scheduled for a series of tightly choreographed 55-hour periods on the weekends of June 13-15, June 20-22 and June 27-29, according to IDOT plans…

On an average project, IDOT tries to “scare away’’ 15 percent of the traffic to compensate for lane closures, officials said. During the Kennedy work, they hope to divert about 25 percent of traffic elsewhere.

There are echoes here of the Carmageddon in Los Angeles several years ago that ended up working out pretty well. While this location is a key part of the Chicago highway system, there are alternative routes either in the downtown area or different highways that can route people further around the city. At the same time, this does highlight the importance of fixing the Circle Interchange nearby to have better traffic flow.

It will be interesting to watch the PR for all of this. In fact, is two weeks enough time to start alerting people to Chicago’s own Carmageddon? Yet, I imagine local news outlets will eat this up.

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