CHICAGO — After nine years, the Jane Byrne Interchange Project has finally come to an end and has officially reopened Friday.
The project started back in 2013 when the interchange went by a different name — The Circle Interchange. It was supposed to be a four-year project, but ended up going nine years. It also went over-budget.
The latest financial update from earlier this year, put it at price tag of $806 million, almost 50% more than the $535 million originally expected.
IDOT says the delay and price increase are partially due to some unexpected problems at the construction site, including poor soil in the area and issues with the underground tunnels that forced it to change design plans mid-project. It also says other large-scale projects nearby, like I-55/LSD construction, slowed work in the highly traveled area.
Here’s a look at the final changes that took place overnight:
- 90/94 (Kennedy and Dan Ryan) now four lanes each way through the interchange
- EB I-290 (Eisenhower) ramp to SB 90/94 (Dan Ryan) now two lanes
- EB I-290 (Eisenhower) ramp to NB 90/94 (Kennedy) now two lanes
- Adams and Jackson ramps to NB 90/94 (Kennedy) open
Some of the big changes associated with the project that are already in place include the following:
- A new two-lane flyover ramp from NB 90/94 (Dan Ryan) to WB I-290 (Eisenhower)
- Nine newly constructed roads over I-90/94 and I-290: Monroe, Adams, Jackson, Harrison, Taylor, Van Buren, Halsted, Peoria & Morgan
- New underground water storage vault at 90/94 near Polk that’s the size of two Olympic size swimming pools to prevent flooding on the expressway
- Some left-hand entrance ramps were relocated to the right side on 90/94/The Kennedy.
IDOT says the new interchange is expected to help reduce traffic delays in the area by at least 50%, reduce idling which is estimated to save 1.6 million gallons of gas annually and is expected to drop the number of severe crashes by 25%.
The interchange that brings together three major expressways is used by more than 400,000 motorists a day.
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzer said motorists will “no doubt” have an easier time.
Among the speakers at the ribbon cutting on Wednesday was Kathy Byrne, the daughter of former Mayor Jane Byrne, whom all of this is named after.
“I want to thank you and express our appreciation,” Kathy said. “This is my mom’s necklace and on the bag it has the city seal engraved. It’s beautiful. On the front, it says ‘One Chicago’ and what the JB interchange does it it brings all of Chicago together from the south, from the west, from the north and makes us one Chicago.”