Interstate 55 and Lake Shore Drive Interchange Reconstruction

The Illinois Department of Transportation (Department) is undertaking the reconstruction of the interchange of Interstate 55 (the Stevenson Expressway) at Lake Shore Drive (US Route 41) in the City of Chicago.  At its eastern terminus I-55 links into Lake Shore Drive via several ramps and bridges; this urban expressway, neighbor to McCormick Place and Soldier Field, connects the neighborhoods and the lakefront from the south to the Central Business District and the Loop to the north.  The project limits along I-55 include the structure and approach roadways extending from approximately Prairie Avenue spanning over Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and the Illinois Central (IC) Railroad/METRA Electric tracks to Lake Shore Drive.  The improvement limits along Lake Shore Drive extend from approximately 23rd Street near Soldier Field to approximately 1000’ north of 31st Street.  The total project length including the six bridge structures is approximately 5,869’ (1.1 miles) long.

Note: IDOT projects typically have three distinct phases. Phase I (or the project Study) consists of developing the project scope, environmental studies and preliminary design of a project. Phase II (Design) consists of refining the design to develop contract plans and land acquisition. Phase III (Construction) consists of the actual construction of the project.

Over the last 5 years, the Department has needed to utilize several roadway contracts to patch these structures and there are times when unplanned closures for repairs have been necessary to patch holes in the bridge decks.  Based on the age and condition of the structures they need to be replaced;  in addition motorists utilizing the interchange experience delays due to the existing lane configurations and geometry.  For these reasons, this project will reconstruct the interchange and provide enhancements to the roadway geometry.  The proposed work focusses mainly on the reconstruction of the bridges but geometry for the connection of the ramps will include wider pavement to provide two lanes for the north to west and south to east ramps where the original ramps only carried one lane and widening of the bridges on I-55 for more efficient flow of traffic.  No changes will be made to the mainline Lake Shore Drive lanes as part of this project.

The project work will include six new bridge structures, six retaining walls, installation of curb and gutter, modifications to drainage structures, and relocation of light poles and signs.  Work also includes upgrades/additions to surveillance equipment.  Care has been taken to consider the aesthetics and a separate final landscaping plan is being coordinated with City of Chicago Park District staff who oversee the plantings along Lake Shore Drive.  Several green initiatives are anticipated for use on this project including but not limited to the use of recycled aggregates, protection of natural habitat through the use of a well-defined storm water pollution prevention plan, erosion control measures as allowed within the project limits. 

Through coordination efforts with the Metropolitan Water and Reclamation District (MWRD) and the Chicago Park District, the project seeks to provide potential water quality improvement measures for the outfall of storm water to Lake Michigan.  The preliminary water quality improvement measures include, but are not limited to:

  1. New low-flow connections into the City of Chicago and MWRD sewer systems, and the installation of a new control/overflow structure into the Lake with stormwater detention provided within the proposed sewer to maintain allowable release rates.

  2. Proposed swale to intercept runoff from bridge scupper downspout prior to draining into City of Chicago drainage structure.

  3. The use of swales to utilize existing flows for landscaping maintenance and irrigation.

Maintenance of Traffic

The proposed methods of construction and temporary traffic control for this project are limited by the fact that all of the interchange ramps are currently on structure.  The plans provide for doing work in stages with some new bridges being built on new alignments to allow the current flow of traffic to remain the same.  There will be some short term detours needed during beam erection and connections of the newly constructed structures.  The update tab will include any changes to the Maintenance of Traffic, or notification of major construction events (like beam erection).

Project Schedule

The project will be constructed under two primary roadway contracts.  The initial contract was awarded on March 13, 2015 and executed on March 26, 2015. This portion of the contract includes outbound bridges and includes work on southbound I-55, the ramp carrying traffic from the south to the west and the ramp carrying traffic from the north to the west. It is anticipated that construction will begin in mid-May 2015 and be completed by Summer, 2017. The second contract is scheduled to be let for construction in the summer of 2015; work involves the inbound bridges and includes northbound I-55, the ramp carrying traffic from the east to the south and ramp carrying traffic from the east to the north.  It is anticipated that construction will begin in late Fall of 2015 and be completed by Winter of 2017.  A date has not yet been determined for the landscaping contract.

This site will be updated periodically as the project progresses. The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) wishes to thank you for your support and patience.

Map of Contract #60L70Map of Contract #60X07Overall Construction
Contract #60L70Contract #60X07Overall Construction
click on images to enlarge

This site will be updated periodically as the project progresses. The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) wishes to thank you for your support and patience.

Live Camera Snapshots

Photo Gallery

Progress Photos - October 2016 (South)
Progress Photos - October 2016 (West)
Progress Photos - October 2016 (East)
Progress Photos - October 2016 (Aerial)