'Texas U-turn' will be temporary fix as Eisenhower ramp to Kennedy closes tonight
Thursday evening is the last time inbound Eisenhower Expressway drivers can cruise onto the ramp leading to the outbound Kennedy Expressway until October.
The Illinois Department of Transportation is closing the Chicago ramp, which serves 25,000 vehicles daily, at 8 p.m. Thursday so crews can replace the aging structure with a version that offers two lanes and shoulders.
The work is part of the massive rebuild of the Jane Byrne Interchange where the Kennedy, Eisenhower and Dan Ryan expressways converge.
Eisenhower Expressway drivers can still access the outbound Kennedy, but there's a twist and it's expected to add to the traffic jam around the project.
Kennedy-bound traffic will be detoured onto the far-right Eisenhower lane and steered to the outbound Dan Ryan Expressway. From there, motorists will take a "Texas U-turn" at the Taylor Street interchange and go from there to the westbound Kennedy.
But once you commit to the Dan Ryan, there's no turning back.
"The detour will be a dedicated lane separated by a barrier wall to restrict merging into the regular Dan Ryan lanes and requiring drivers to use the Taylor Street interchange," IDOT engineers said.
For more information and a video, go to janebyrneinterchange.org.
What's a Texas U-turn? It "refers to a roadway that allows vehicles to make a 180-degree maneuver to go in the opposite direction, usually without traffic signals," IDOT spokeswoman Maria Castaneda said. "They were first widely used in Texas on one-way frontage roads that paralleled expressways.
"The free flow U-turn improves traffic flow and reduces congestion in certain situations because it keeps the U-turning traffic out of the cross road intersections. An example of this is at the Meacham Road interchange on Route 390."
The ramp will reopen in four months.
The price of the Jane Byrne Interchange redo, which started out at $535 million according to 2013 cost estimates, has grown to $796.5 million. It will be completed in 2022, IDOT promises.