Planes, trains and automobiles: What will Chicago's commuters see in 2020?

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Illinois residents will experience stop-and-go deja vu next year, with many construction projects continuing from years past.

The Jane Byrne Interchange reconstruction won't be done. Neither will the rebuilding and widening of part of Interstate 294, the Tri-State Tollway. There's better news about some other long-running projects as well as some good and bad news for your wallet.

For a second year in a row, the CTA, Metra and Pace will not raise fares, though there will be higher fees on the Chicago Skyway, with car tolls going up 30 cents to $5.60. It was $2 before it was privatized in 2005.

Here's a rundown of projects coming, or continuing, around the Chicago area:

Expressways
On the Jane Byrne, the ramp from outbound Ida B. Wells Drive to the outbound Kennedy Expressway will close Saturday in order to demolish and rebuild it before the end of 2020, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation.

It will be just the first major closure of the year at the Byrne Interchange, which is going to have a rough 2020. Upcoming work also includes the closure and reconstruction of the inbound Eisenhower ramp to the outbound Kennedy, as well as ongoing work on the outbound Ida B. Wells ramp to the outbound Dan Ryan, and the inbound Kennedy ramp to inbound Ida B. Wells.

The Adams Street and Jackson Boulevard bridges over the Kennedy will close for full reconstruction, with a tentative reopening in 2022, IDOT said. IDOT expects the entire Jane Byrne project to finish in 2022.

In the suburbs, work continues to convert the Interstate 55 and Weber Road interchange in Romeoville and Bolingbrook to a diverging diamond, a road design intended to improve travel times and safety. The project will add a third lane in each direction of Weber in the area. This project wraps up in 2021 or 2022, IDOT said.

The state also is reconstructing the interchange between Interstate 80 and U.S. 30 in New Lenox. The project will add a third lane in each direction on the busy stretch of I-80 between Interstate 355 and U.S. 30.
Around Labor Day, IDOT expects to finish construction of the long-running Kennedy Expressway/Cumberland Avenue flyover project, which involved building a new two-lane bridge spanning both Interstate 90 and the CTA Blue Line. The project started in 2016.

IDOT also will make bridge deck replacements on Interstate 290 over Salt Creek just east of Addison Road, which will require lane shifts.

The Chicago Department of Transportation will start station house construction at Damen Avenue and Lake Street on the Green Line, which will affect road traffic in the area.

The city also plans to break ground on the 43rd Street pedestrian bridge over Lake Shore Drive, and finish the Navy Pier Flyover, part of the Lakefront Trail, in late spring of 2020. The project started in 2014, and the city originally predicted it would be finished in 2018.

The Tollway
The Illinois Tollway will spend about $1.46 billion next year on projects, including the Tri-State and the Edens Spur, spokesman Dan Rozek said.

Tri-State work will include reconstruction of the BNSF Railroad Bridge, which carries the railroad over the Tri-State between Hinsdale and Western Springs.

The Tollway also plans to continue extending Illinois Route 390 east to York Road, where a new interchange will be built to connect 390 with the new Interstate 490 tollway and provide direct western access to O'Hare International Airport, Rozek said. Construction continues on the remaining portion of the new I-490/I-90 interchange at the site of the old Des Plaines Oasis.
Bridge and roadway construction on sections of North Avenue and Lake Street will be part of the North Avenue interchange project at I-294, Rozek said.

Work also will start on the second phase of the I-294/I-57 interchange, which will build four new ramps, rebuild the I-57 median and widen the road.

Public transportation
Transit agencies got a big infusion of money from the state capital bill to spend on bridges, stations and equipment, but say they are still in the planning phases for many projects.

"We're still finalizing how that money will be used for large-scale infrastructure projects," CTA spokesman Brian Steele said.

One big job funded and underway is the $2.1 billion Red-Purple Line Modernization. In preparation for major construction in 2020, there will be weekend closures of the Bryn Mawr, Thorndale and Granville stations.

There also will be construction in the Lakeview area to build a flyover that will carry northbound Brown Line trains over Red and Purple line tracks north of Belmont Avenue.

Four stations to be rebuilt as part of the project -- Lawrence, Argyle, Berwyn, and Bryn Mawr -- will close for construction in either late 2020 or early 2021, Steele said. When they close, temporary stations at Argyle and Bryn Mawr will immediately open, he said.
The CTA will finish refurbishing three old stations on the Blue Line -- the Grand, Chicago and Division stops -- in 2020, Steele said. The upgrades include new tile walls, granite stairs and lighting improvements. There will be track work during the weekends,, which will mean stations sometimes will be closed in one direction of travel.

The CTA has started doing similar work at the Blue Line Logan Square station, which will get upgraded lighting and have two elevators refurbished, Steele said.

Pace, the suburban bus service, plans major improvements to its ADA paratransit service, which has been criticized by disabled riders for long waits and other issues. Pace is making it easier for riders to make online reservations, and integrating the Ventra fare payment system with paratransit, according to spokeswoman Maggie Daly Skogsbakken.

Metra will continue work on 11 Union Pacific North bridges from Grace Street to Balmoral Avenue in Chicago, Metra spokesman Michael Gillis said. The commuter railroad also is starting engineering work on the next phase of the project, which will cover bridges over 11 streets from Fullerton to Cornelia avenues.

The agency will start replacing bridges at Milwaukee Avenue in Chicago on the Milwaukee North Line; and at 43rd and Root streets, 86th Street and Vincennes Avenue and at Morgan Street on the Rock Island District line. Metra also wants to finish the second span of the Milwaukee West bridge over the Fox River at Elgin.

Work should begin on the long-awaited Peterson Ridge station on the Union Pacific North Line and the Auburn Park station on the Rock Island, Gillis said.

Other Metra projects will include adding heated shelters to stations, elevator replacements, platform upgrades and parking lot fixes.

The airports
The expansion of Terminal 5 at O'Hare, which paves the way for a massive eight-year, $8.5 billion airport expansion, will continue in 2020.

"It's still mostly going to be work on the extension for the added gates there," Aviation Department spokesman Matthew McGrath said.
Most of the work will be outside so it shouldn't affect passengers, McGrath said.

Work on O'Hare's light rail system, also known as the "people mover," is more than a year behind schedule but the city hopes it will be done in late spring.

Out where the airplanes are, the city will be working on the Runway 9R extension, and finish a new 11,245-foot east-west runway, known as 9C/27C, which will be open before the end of 2020, McGrath said.

At Midway Airport, the city expects to continue working on its modernization program, with 40 to 50 additional concessions and a new security platform over Cicero Avenue that will double screening capacity, McGrath said.

Tribune Content Agency
Transportation industry Primary bond market State of Illinois Illinois State Toll Highway Authority O'Hare Airport Illinois
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