Hearing slated on noise barrier walls


The Illinois Department of Transportation will hold a hearing Thursday, Feb. 13, on a proposal to install six noise barrier walls along the Kennedy Expressway between Cumberland Avenue and Harlem Avenue as part of a project to improve traffic flow along that section of Interstate 90.

The hearing, which will feature a number of exhibits, will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. Feb. 13 at the Holiday Inn Chicago O’Hare, 5615 N. Cumberland Ave.

Alderman Mary Connor (41st) said that the walls would be installed to address concerns expressed by residents about noise from traffic on the Kennedy and from trains on the CTA Blue Line, which runs in the middle of the expressway.

O’Connor said that recent improvements in barrier walls have made them more attractive. “It is not like you are looking at a brick wall,” she said. “They can add ivy.”

The walls would be installed on the south side of the Kennedy between Cumberland and Canfield avenues, between Canfield and Oriole avenues, and between Oriole and the Harlem exit ramp. The locations on the north side would be between the Harlem entrance ramp and Oriole, between Oriole and Canfield, and in an area across from Linden Avenue to the back of the Springhill Suites O’Hare Hotel, 8101 W. Higgins Ave.

Construction of the walls is contingent on a vote that will be taken through letters that IDOT will send to residents who would experience a traffic noise reduction of at least 5 decibels if the walls were installed. More than half of the respondents must vote in favor of the walls in order for them to be included in the project.

The letter will be sent via regular mail, but if fewer than one-third are returned, a second letter will be sent via certified mail, O’Connor said.

The main purpose of the project is to install a fourth lane of traffic in each direction of the Kennedy between Harlem and Cumberland. “The purpose of it is to improve traffic flow along the I-90 corridor and minimize the unnecessary lane changes,” O’Connor said.

Eastbound Interstate 90 narrows to three lanes at Cumberland, while the westbound expressway expands to four lanes at Cumberland. That area experiences a high amount of congestion because of the nearby interchange between I-90 and Interstate 190, which is an access road to O’Hare Airport, and the high number of motorists exiting or entering the Kennedy at Harlem and Cumberland, according to an IDOT study.

The project also calls for a ramp connection for eastbound traffic on the Addams Tollway to the southbound Cumberland exit ramp and for a two-lane exit ramp from the westbound Kennedy to the Cumberland interchange, I-190 and the southbound Tri-State Tollway.

A new collector-distributor roadway on the westbound Kennedy between Cumberland and I-190 would allow the relocation of the Cumberland ramp entrances and exits. In addition, the Cook County Forest Preserve District’s Des Plaines River Trail, which runs along the west side of the East River Road bridge over I-90, would be reconstructed as part of the project.

The construction phase of the project has not been funded, and it is expected that the project would not start for at least a year. Those who want to submit comments or have questions are asked to contact project representative Marie Glynn at 847-705-4073 or at marie.glynn@illinois.gov.