Byrne Circle Interchange Reconstruction: A Visual Perspective

The reconstruction of the Jane Byrne Interchange, a multi-year project designed to improve traffic flow and enhance safety, has been taking place literally right outside the Urban Transportation Center offices housed in CUPPA Hall on South Peoria Street adjacent to the Eisenhower Expressway. Formerly called the Circle Interchange, the junction is more than 50 years old and rated among the most congested expressway interchanges in the nation.

Looking east from the Peoria Street pedestrian bridge.

Looking east from the Peoria Street pedestrian bridge.

The Interchange, renamed in August of 2014 to honor former Chicago Mayor Jane Byrne, is just west of Chicago’s growing central business district; it provides vehicles with links to the Dan Ryan Expressway (I-90/94) to the south, the Kennedy Expressway to the north (I-90/94), the Eisenhower Expressway (I-290) to the west, and eastbound Congress Parkway leading to downtown.

Managed by the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), the Interchange project is cited in IDOT’s FY 2017-2022 Proposed Highway Improvement Program document. Planning for the project was initiated in May 2012 and completed in September, 2013.  The project is now in Phase III, the construction phase, and a tremendous amount of work has been completed, as noted by the images on this page.

Since 2016, these projects have been completed or are underway:

  • Morgan Street Bridge: In October of 2014, the Morgan Street bridge spanning the Eisenhower Expressway was reopened to traffic following more than a year of construction. The rebuilt bridge includes new sidewalks, dedicated bike lanes, modernized traffic signals and enhanced lighting.
  • Harrison Street Bridge: After more than two-years of work, the Harrison Street bridge spanning the Dan Ryan Expressway was opened to vehicle and pedestrians in April of 2016.  The bridge spans between Des Plaines and Halsted streets; improvements include one lane of traffic in each direction, improved sidewalks and a bike lane.
  • Peoria Street Pedestrian Bridge: A key pedestrian link between CUPPA Hall and the UIC East Campus, the Peoria Street bridge was opened in fall of 2015 to pedestrians and cyclists.The bridge is more than 50 feet wide in its span over the Eisenhower Expressway. Work continued in summer of 2016 to install landscaping, irrigation, lighting, sitting walls, and signage.
  • Halsted Street Bridge: The bridge on this north-south arterial roadway has remained open to one lane of traffic in each direction during the Byrne Circle Interchange construction, however extensive improvements are underway. When completed later in 2016, the bridge will offer two traffic lanes and a 5-foot dedicated bike lane in each direction, new sidewalks and roadway lighting, modernized traffic signals at Harrison Street, a new pedestrian crosswalk with traffic signals and an overhead canopy at the CTA Blue Line station.
  • CTA UIC/Halsted Blue Line Station: Much work was done to upgrade the CTA station.  Now completed, the station features a new ADA compliant elevator, new roof and exterior panels, replacement lighting, and surveillance cameras.
  • Northwest Flyover: Construction of the two-lane ramp was completed in December of 2016.  The ramp will feed traffic from the inbound Dan Ryan to the outbound Eisenhower expressway. IDOT estimates that the more than 2,000 foot flyover will carry around 35,000 vehicles each weekday.
  • Van Buren Street Bridge: Begun in 2017, this project includes reconstruction of the bridge spanning the north and southbound lanes of the Kennedy Expressway (I90/94). The roadway is expected to be open to traffic in summer of 2019.
A view looking west from Halsted Street.

A view looking west from Halsted Street of the Northwest Flyover under construction.

In 2014, IDOT and the UTC launched a live web cam that provides a continuous feed showing construction activity and traffic movement around the Byrne Interchange. The web cam receives up to 500 views monthly from Chicago traffic reporters, transportation enthusiasts and people interested in watching the live traffic stream.

The web cam, which is located on the northeast corner of University Hall on the UIC East Campus, currently is positioned to show the entire Byrne Circle Interchange.

Below are other images of the Byrne Circle Interchange construction project taken in June of 2016:

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Construction on the north side of the Eisenhower Expressway just west of Halsted Street.

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CUPPA Hall, at right, is literally a stone’s throw from the Interchange project. The rebuilt Morgan Street bridge is in the distance.

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A close up of construction activity for the Northwest Flyover along the Eisenhower Expressway at Green Street.

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These structures will support the 2,000-foot Northwest Flyover ramp.

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The Peoria Street pedestrian bridge looking north from Harrison Street. CUPPA Hall is at left.

When completed, the Peoria Street pedestrian bridge will include sitting walls and landscaping.

When completed, the Peoria Street pedestrian bridge will include sitting walls and landscaping.

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This pedestrian overhead canopy is among the improvements underway on the Halsted Street bridge.

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The CTA UIC/Halsted Blue Line station received a new ADA compliant elevator, roof and exterior panels.