Study Finds Kennedy Expressway Congestion Worst in Nation

If you live in the Chicago area, you know how big of a problem traffic congestion can be. It is so bad that many choose to forego ownership of personal cars in favor of the city’s network of public transportation, taxi cabs, or rideshare options just so drivers do not have to deal with the headaches that accompany traffic. Others try to walk or ride a bicycle when possible and some choose to drive only during hours that are unlikely to see a high traffic load.

If you have these feelings, a new study is justifying them as it has concluded that the Kennedy Expressway near Chicago is the worst bottleneck in the nation. The 12-mile stretch of the Kennedy Expressway between the Circle Interchange with I-290 and the Edens Junction at I-94 outranked all other bottlenecks in the nation in terms of the total delays as well as the average length of congestion in the area.

The study was conducted by the American Highway User’s Alliance and it determined that the Kennedy Expressway resulted in 16,900,000 total delay hours in a year, more than twice as many as the second-largest bottleneck which is located in Los Angeles, California. The Kennedy’s delays were also blamed for $418 million in lost time damages and a waste of 6.37 million gallons of fuel.

Traffic anywhere can be very frustrating to drivers who need to arrive at their destinations at a specified time, including those who are commuting to or from work. With the Kennedy Expressway presenting such a headache to so many, it is reasonable to question the causes of the traffic backups and to try and deduce solutions to the issues as they exist presently.

Officials caution that not one single problem leads to backups on the Kennedy but rather that several factors combine to cause the stop-and-go conditions that so many are used to. First, the Kennedy is a primary feeder for people who live in the western suburbs to get into the city. With a very high population living west of town, traffic utilizing the Kennedy is heavy most weekdays and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. But it takes more than just traffic itself to cause the delays experienced outside of Chicago and some have claimed that the Kennedy’s layout is partly to blame. At certain sections, there are numerous on- and off-ramps along the Kennedy which leads to traffic continually merging and exiting, slowing the overall flow of traffic and making it more likely that car accidents will take place. While construction projects are ongoing to provide alternative routes to O’Hare Airport and to streamline the Circle Interchange, similar steps are not being taken on the Kennedy directly, leaving commuters wondering how bad things must get before change is enacted.

If you have to drive on the Kennedy Expressway, particularly during rush hours, keep in mind that your own conduct while operating your car can go a long way to ensuring your safety. Make sure you are prepared to stop quickly in case conditions worsen and keep your speed low. Further, if you are unfamiliar with the area, try to review your route ahead of time so that you will be ready to exit or enter the expressway when you need to. Finally, do not change lanes unless you are clear to do so as a quick lane change is likely to lead to a sideswipe car accident.

If you were involved in a crash on the Kennedy Expressway or if someone you love was injured or killed, call the personal injury attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C. today for your free, no-obligation case consultation. We have a licensed lawyer standing by 24 hours a day, seven days a week to take your call toll free at (855) 529-2442 or locally at (312) 924-7575 and everything discussed during a case consultation will be kept confidential.

At Abels & Annes, P.C., we know how dangerous the expressways around Chicago can be – we drive them every day ourselves. If you were injured, call us and let us fight fo the relief you deserve.

Prior Blog Entry:

Staying Safe During Thanksgiving Travel, Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, published November 24, 2015.


Kennedy Expressway ranked the worst bottleneck in the entire country, by Clayton Guse, TimeOut Chicago, published November 23, 2015.

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