World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Kennedy Expressway

Kennedy Expressway
John F. Kennedy Expressway
Route information
Maintained by IDOT
Length: 17.80 mi[1] (28.65 km)
Existed: 1960 – present
Major junctions
West end: O'Hare International Airport in Chicago
  US 12 / US 45 in Chicago
I-294 in Rosemont
I-90 / I-190 in Chicago
IL 171 in Chicago
IL 43 in Chicago
I-94 in Chicago
IL 19 in Chicago
IL 64 in Chicago
East end: I-90 / I-94 / I-290 / IL 110 in Chicago
Highway system

The John F. Kennedy Expressway is a 17.8-mile-long (28.65 km) freeway that travels northwest from the neighborhood of West Loop to O'Hare International Airport. The highway is named for the 35th U.S. President, John F. Kennedy, and conforms to the Chicago-area convention of using the term Expressway for an Interstate Highway without tolls. The Interstate 90 (I-90) portion of the Kennedy is a part of the much longer I-90 (which runs 3,111.52 miles (5,007.51 km) from Boston, Massachusetts to Seattle, Washington). The Kennedy's official endpoints are the Circle Interchange with Interstate 290 (Eisenhower Expressway/Congress Parkway) and the Dan Ryan Expressway (also I-90/94) at the east end, and the O'Hare Airport terminals at the west end. The Interstate 190 portion of the Kennedy is 3.07 miles (4.94 km) long and is meant to serve airport traffic. Interstate 90 picks up the Kennedy destination and runs a further 6.29 miles (10.12 km), before joining with I-94 for the final 8.44 miles (13.58 km).[1]

Traveling eastbound from O'Hare, the Kennedy interchanges with the eastern terminus of the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (Interstate 90) and with the Tri-State Tollway (Interstate 294) at a complex junction just west of Illinois Route 171 (Cumberland Avenue). The Kennedy later merges with the southern end of the Edens Expressway (Interstate 94) at Montrose Avenue; the Kennedy (at this point both I-90 and I-94) then turns south to its junction with the Dan Ryan and Eisenhower Expressways and Congress Parkway at the Circle Interchange in downtown Chicago.

With up to 327,000 vehicles traveling on some portions of the Kennedy daily, the Kennedy and its South Side extension, the Dan Ryan, are the busiest roads in Illinois.[1]


  • History 1
  • Features 2
  • Exit list 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


An eastbound view of the Kennedy Expressway heading toward downtown Chicago

The Kennedy was originally constructed along the route of Avondale Avenue, an existing diagonal street, and the northwest railroad corridor, in the late 1950s and completed on November 5, 1960. Originally named the Northwest Expressway for its general direction of travel, the Chicago City Council voted unanimously on November 29, 1963—one week after the assassination of President Kennedy—to rename the highway the John F. Kennedy Expressway.[2] Until 1978, the Kennedy Expressway was marked as I-94 and Illinois Route 194 (IL 194), I-90 and I-190 replaced IL 194 and thus the Eisenhower Expressway was renamed from I-90 to I-290.

The express portion of the freeway was last reconstructed from 1992 through 1994,[3] when the existing express lanes, which previously were reversed by hand, were modernized. In addition, all aspects of the express lanes system were computerized, so that the process could be controlled at both ends from a central location. At least once a day, however, IDOT crews still examine the express lanes for debris while the lanes are closed.

Southeastward view of the Kennedy Expressway from the Montrose Blue Line Station, with the reversible express lanes to the right of the tracks

In 2005, the Washington Street bridge over the expressway was reconstructed, and the entrance ramps to both directions of the Kennedy were partially removed. The same was done in 2006 for the Monroe Street bridge. This left a disconnected portion of each ramp remaining on the expressway, to be removed and the existing "suicide ramps'" lengths extended when funding became available. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provided the necessary funding for the construction between Hubbard Street and the Circle Interchange, commencing in summer 2009. The westbound (facing north) ramps at Adams Street and Madison Street, along with the eastbound (facing south) ramps at Randolph Street and Madison Street, were lengthened by removing what remained of abandoned ramps and lengthening the entrance ramps significantly.[4] The only remaining short, limited-sight, left-side suicide ramp entrance is from Lake Street to the eastbound expressway (heading south). As part of the project, eastbound (heading south) traffic patterns were adjusted. The two right-most lanes were made "exit only" for Chicago Loop, Congress Parkway, and Eisenhower Expressway exits, the Adams Street and Jackson Boulevard exits were combined, certain center median walls reconstructed, lanes restriped to remove the merging of the leftmost lanes, and appropriate signage changes. For example, the changes increased the taper for the Randolph Street entrance headed eastbound from 160 to 583 feet (49 to 178 m),[5] an increase of over 3.6×. In the westbound direction (headed north), the exit ramp to Monroe Street was permanently removed.


The Blue Line operates in the median of the Kennedy Expressway for about 10 miles (16 km) from just south of Addison Street to just east of Mannheim Road. In 1984, the city of Chicago decided that the best option to serve the needs of the people regarding public transportation, was a rapid transit line constructed in the median to O'Hare instead of a fourth lane in both directions. This had been done previously in the early 1950s within the medians of the Eisenhower Expressway, and for the Dan Ryan Expressway in 1969. The decision proved to be wise, as the rail line is heavily traveled by commuters and travelers during the rush hour.

Sign over the Kennedy Expressway, at the north entrance to Hubbard's Cave, encouraging commuters to use Metra trains, such as one seen here passing over the highway, to avoid the common congestion

The second distinct features of the Kennedy Expressway are its reversible express lanes where I-94 merges into I-90. The reversible lanes lie in the median of the highway from the Kennedy Expressway/Edens Expressway junction until just north of the Loop (at Ohio Street), a distance of about eight miles (13 km). These reversible lanes allow two lanes of traffic to flow towards or away from the city, depending on the time of the day. The lanes are controlled by computers and verified by humans at a separate control center. Steel mesh barriers and breakaway gates prevent traffic from entering oncoming lanes. On January 25, 2014, a drunk driver broke through the safety gates and drove in the express lanes in the wrong direction, but was stopped by a snow plow; no injuries were reported.[6] This was the first wrong-way accident involving the express lanes.

A third distinct feature is Hubbard's Cave, also called the Hubbard Street Tunnel, a continuous set of bridges for a number of streets and railroads over the highway that forms a tunnel. It is named for Hubbard Street, one of the streets it passes underneath. Hubbard's Cave is a landmark frequently heard in traffic reports on radio and TV.

Magikist Lips sign formerly located on the Kennedy Expressway at Montrose Avenue in Chicago, torn down in 2004

The final distinct features are the nine exits in two miles (3.2 km) between mile markers 50 and 51, and the southbound exit to I-290 and Congress Parkway is marked as exits 51H and 51I. While the density of interchanges is quite dangerous, the hazard is partially offset by the fact that exits are 500 feet (150 m) apart on the right hand side, while entrances to the highway were 500 feet (150 m) apart, but on the left side. Known as the "suicide ramps", the entrance ramps on the left had little to no acceleration zone, and traffic on the ramps could not see mainline traffic until the last 500 feet (150 m) of the ramp. The 2009–10 reconstruction between Hubbard Street and the Circle Interchange improved safety by increasing the lengths of most entrance ramps and reduced bottlenecks by better utilizing the existing space.

The Kennedy Expressway was the location of a large Magikist lips flashing sign which was a Chicago pop culture icon for many years. Located at the southeast corner where Montrose Avenue abutted the expressway, the sign was torn down in 2004.

Exit list

The entire route is in Cook County.

Location mi[1] km Exit Destinations Notes
Chicago 0.00 0.00 O'Hare International Airport Western terminus of I-190
0.99 1.59 Bessie Coleman Drive – Terminal 5, Rental Car Return
1.27 2.04 2 US 12 / US 45 (Mannheim Road) Signed as exits 2A (north) and 2B (south);
eastbound exit 2B shares a ramp with Bessie Coleman Drive
Rosemont 1.79 2.88 1D I-294 south (Tollway)
1.81 2.91 1C I-294 north (Tollway) to I-90 west (Tollway) – Milwaukee, Rockford Eastbound exit and westbound entrance
2.24 3.60 1 River Road Signed as exits 1A (north) and 1B (south) eastbound
Chicago 3.07
78 I-90 west (Tollway) to I-294 north (Tollway) – Rockford, Milwaukee Eastern terminus of I-190; westbound exit and eastbound entrance
79.60 128.10 79 IL 171 south (Cumberland Avenue) Signed as exits 79A (south) and 79B (north)
80.30 129.23 80 Canfield Road Westbound exit and eastbound entrance
81.20 130.68 81A IL 43 (Harlem Avenue)
81.20 130.68 81B Sayre Avenue (7000 West) Westbound exit and eastbound entrance
82.20 132.29 82A Nagle Avenue (6432 West) No westbound exit
82.40 132.61 82B Bryn Mawr Avenue (5600 North) Westbound exit only
82.80 133.25 82C Austin Avenue (6000 West) Eastbound exit only
83.30 134.06 83A Foster Avenue (5200 North) No eastbound exit
83.50 134.38 83B Central Avenue (5600 West) Westbound exit and eastbound entrance
84.20 135.51 84 Lawrence Avenue (4800 North) To I-94 west (Edens Expressway)
43B I-94 west (Edens Expressway) – Milwaukee "The Junction"; western terminus of concurrency with I-94;
westbound exit and eastbound entrance
43.60 70.17 43C Montrose Avenue (4400 North) Westbound exit and eastbound entrance
43.90 70.65 43D Kostner Avenue (4400 West) Westbound exit only
44.30 71.29 44A IL 19 (Irving Park Road (4000 North)) / Keeler Avenue No westbound exit
44.50 71.62 44B IL 19 (Irving Park Road (4000 North)) / Pulaski Road(4000 West) Westbound exit and eastbound entrance
45.10 72.58 45A Addison Street (3600 North)
45.50 73.23 45B Kimball Avenue (3400 West)
45.80 73.71 45C Belmont Avenue (3200 North) Westbound exit and eastbound entrance
46.10 74.19 Sacramento Avenue (3000 West) Eastbound entrance only
46.30 74.51 46A California Avenue (2800 West) Eastbound exit and westbound entrance
46.50 74.83 46B Diversey Avenue (2800 North) Westbound exit only and eastbound entrance
47A Western Avenue (2400 West) / Fullerton Avenue (2400 North) No eastbound access to Western Avenue
47.60 76.60 47B Damen Avenue (2000 West) Westbound exit and eastbound entrance
48.15 77.49 48A Armitage Avenue (2000 North)
48.70 78.38 48B IL 64 (North Avenue) (1600 North)
49.40 79.50 49A Division Street (1200 North)
49B Augusta Boulevard / Milwaukee Avenue (1000 North) Westbound exit and eastbound entrance
50.10 80.63 50A Ogden Avenue (1200 West) Eastbound exit and westbound entrance
50.40 81.11 50B Ohio Street east (600 North) Eastern terminus of express lanes
51.00 82.08 51A Lake Street (200 North) Westbound exit and eastbound entrance
51.10 82.24 51B Randolph Street west (150 North)
51.20 82.40 51C Washington Boulevard east (100 North) No entrance ramps
51.30 82.56 51D Madison Street (0 North/South)
51.40 82.72 51E Monroe Street (100 South) Eastbound exit only
51.50 82.88 51F Adams Street west (200 South) Eastbound exit only; shared ramp with exit 51G
51.60 83.04 51G Jackson Boulevard east (300 South) Eastbound exit and westbound entrance;
shared exit ramp with exit 51F
51.80 83.36 51H I-290 west (Eisenhower Expressway / IL 110) – West Suburbs Eastbound exit and westbound entrance
51.80 83.36 51I Congress Parkway east – Chicago Loop (500 South) Eastbound exit and westbound entrance
51.80 83.36 I-90 east / I-94 east (Dan Ryan Expressway) – Indiana I-90 and I-94 continue east
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi


  1. ^ a b c d Illinois Technology Transfer Center (2006). "T2 GIS Data". Illinois Department of Transportation. Retrieved November 8, 2007. 
  2. ^ "Northwest Expressway Is Renamed for Kennedy". Chicago Tribune. November 30, 1963. Retrieved March 11, 2010. 
  3. ^ Hilkevitch, John (March 26, 2006). "Buckle Up, It Looks like a Long Ride". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved March 26, 2006. 
  4. ^ Hilkevitch, Jon (July 13, 2009). "Kennedy Expressway Left-Lane 'Suicide' Ramps Makeover Begins Monday". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved July 21, 2013. 
  5. ^ Hilkevitch, Jon (December 21, 2009). "Getting Around: Kennedy Expressway's New Ramps Get a Test-Drive". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved July 21, 2013. 
  6. ^ "IDOT Snowplow Stops Wrong-Way Driver in Kennedy Expressway Express Lanes". Chicago Sun Times. Sun-Times Media Wire. January 25, 2014. 

External links

  • John F. Kennedy Expressway (I-90 and I-94) at Steve Anderson's
  • Historic, Current & Average Travel Times For The Kennedy Expressway
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.