Chicago is a great city for a lot of things, but highway congestion isn't one of them. A new study from the American Highway Users Alliance confirmed just that, as it ranked Chicago's Kennedy Expressway as the worst bottleneck in the entire country. Los Angeles, a city that's notorious for its gridlocked traffic, is home to six of the 10 worst bottlenecks, but none of them are even close to as bad as the hellhole that is the 12-mile stretch of I-90 between the Jane Byrne Interchange and the Edens Junction.
The terrible traffic along the highway isn't just frustrating—it's incredibly costly. According to the report, the Kennedy bottleneck is responsible for 16.9 million hours of annual delays, which equates to $418 million in lost time. It also states that alleviating the traffic jams along the route would cut out more than 130 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions.
The problems with the Kennedy haven't been missed by the powers that be in Chicago. The Jane Byrne Interchange is in the middle of a $420 million reconstruction project. Work is also underway on the $3.4 billion Elgin-O'Hare Expressway extension, which will give western suburbanites another route to the airport and I-90. Both of those projects will go a long way in reducing traffic along the North Side expressway, but one immovable feature will force the road to be a bottleneck for the foreseeable future: the Blue Line. It prevents the Kennedy from expanding (the same applies for the Eisenhower Expressway on the West Side).
That said, the Blue Line is a better option than a car for people traveling across the city. Chicago is one of three cities across the country where public transit to the airport is faster than driving. So if you can't handle any more traffic on the Kennedy, consider trading in your car keys for a Ventra card.
This post was updated on Wednesday, November 24 at 9am.