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State Seeking To Rebuild Circle Interchange To Ease Congestion

The Circle Interchange joins the Kennedy, Dan Ryan and Eisenhower Expressways just west of downtown Chicago. (Credit: CBS)

The Circle Interchange joins the Kennedy, Dan Ryan and Eisenhower Expressways just west of downtown Chicago. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – If you generally curse going through the Circle Interchange, where the Dan Ryan, Eisenhower and Kennedy Expressways come together, help could be on the way.

WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports the interchange handles 400,000 vehicles a day, including 33,000 trucks.

Illinois Department of Transportation spokesman Mike Claffey said there are 940 accidents a year at the interchange.

“The Circle has been identified as one of the most severe bottlenecks in the nation,” Claffey said.

Now, plans are in the works to reconstruct the more than 50-year-old piece of road.

The biggest parts of that include making ramps from the inbound Ryan to the outbound Eisenhower two lanes wide instead of one; same thing with the ramp from the inbound Ike to the outbound Kennedy.

Claffey also said bridges that cross over the interchange would be redesigned with wider sidewalks, new bike lanes, and improved access to mass transit.

Next Wednesday, a public hearing has been scheduled for 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Marriott hotel in the Medical District, at 625 S. Ashland Av. The public will get a chance to see what the design looks like and make comments.

Claffey said a reconstructed Circle Interchange should reduce congestion by 50%, save motorists more than five million hours a year total in wasted traffic jams, and save over 1.5 million gallons of gas.

Motorists, for the most part, can’t wait.

Patricia Peralta said she generally avoids the Circle Interchange because, “It’s too much for me. You know, I can’t personally, mentally; I can’t deal with it. I’d rather take the side streets and get where I need to go.”

Motorist Duffy Adelson said, “Less congestion would be a wonderful idea.”

But motorist Eric Taylor was pessimistic a redesigned Circle Interchange would make much difference.

“Even if they rebuild it, it’s still going to be congested, and you’re going to have to … be stuck in traffic regardless,” he said.

No date has been scheduled for the start of the $420 million dollar project, mainly because the state hasn’t yet lined up federal funding for the project.

For information about the Circle Interchange Study, visit www.circleinterchange.org.