Suicide Ramp Reconstruction to Begin

Jon Hilkevitch of the Chicago Tribune passes on the news that the long-delayed project of reconfiguring the entrance ramps1 to the Kennedy Expressway is finally going ahead, with some changes.

Washington Suicide Ramp

Downtown Chicago must often throw the dice — and perhaps mumble a quick prayer or profanity — while attempting to merge, squeeze, plead or fight their way into highway traffic.

Hundreds of collisions result each year at the “suicide merges” along the Kennedy, the second-busiest expressway in the Chicago region. (The Dan Ryan Expressway ranks No. 1.)

After postponing safety improvements for years on the 1960s-era highway design, the state is now targeting federal stimulus grants for the $9.3 million project to try to straighten out the mess.

Work is set to begin Monday toward rebuilding six notoriously dangerous center-access entrance ramps to the Kennedy. And that inevitably will cause a whole different kind of mess: a months-long traffic nightmare at a crucial choke point for Chicago’s highway system.

[Click to continue reading: Kennedy Expressway left-lane ‘suicide’ ramps makeover begins Monday —]

Kennedy Suicide Ramp

Any improvement is good, but I would prefer the original plan had been viable, namely, moving the ramps to the right of the road. You know, like 95% of all on-ramps.

The first phase of work, aimed at improving traffic flow and reducing crashes on the Kennedy ( Interstate Highway 90/94) near the Hubbard’s Cave tunnel, focuses on realigning three exit ramps. The change is intended to allow for more gradual maneuvering off the expressway and to discourage drivers from aggressively weaving across lanes and causing rear-end or side-swipe collisions, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation.

“Hubbard’s Cave is an area where we see fender-benders every day,” said IDOT spokeswoman Marisa Kollias.

After the exit ramps are overhauled, crews will start rebuilding the entrance ramps in September to improve the lines of sight and lengthen the acceleration lanes, IDOT officials said.

When the construction dust settles in November, reconfigured and more motorist-friendly entrance ramps to the Kennedy will open eastbound at Lake, Randolph and Madison Streets; and westbound at Madison and Adams Street and Jackson Boulevard, IDOT officials said.

The earthen remnants of the Kennedy entrance ramps at Washington Boulevard and Monroe Street, which were closed in 2005 and 2006, respectively, will be removed to make way for longer, gentler ramp entrances at Randolph, Madison and Adams, officials said.

  1. often called the suicide ramps – I tend to avoid them altogether, leaving my house a few minutes earlier and taking another ramp []

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