Jane Byrne Interchange
Circle Interchange
Jane M. Byrne Interchange (1) 4-1-22.jpg
An aerial photo in April 2022.
Chicago, Illinois
Coordinates41°52′32″N 87°38′44″W / 41.87551°N 87.64546°W / 41.87551; -87.64546Coordinates: 41°52′32″N 87°38′44″W / 41.87551°N 87.64546°W / 41.87551; -87.64546
Roads at


IL 110 (CKC)
Maintained byIDOT

The Jane Byrne Interchange (until 2014, Circle Interchange) is a major freeway interchange near downtown Chicago, Illinois. It is the junction between the Dan Ryan, Kennedy and Eisenhower Expressways (I-90/I-94 and I-290), and Ida B. Wells Drive. In a dedication ceremony held on August 29, 2014, this interchange was renamed in honor of former Chicago mayor Jane M. Byrne (1979–1983).

This interchange is notorious for its traffic jams. In 2004, it was rated as the country's third-worst traffic bottleneck, with approximately 400,000 vehicles a day using it[1] losing a combined 25 million hours each year.[2] In a 2010 study of freight congestion (truck speed and travel time), the Department of Transportation ranked this section of the I-290 as having the worst congestion in the United States; the average truck speed is just 29.41 mph (47.33 km/h).[3]


Original configuration
Original configuration

This interchange as originally built was an asymmetrical turbine interchange, with each of the four mainlines having a single entrance and exit serving both directions of the crossing highway. It did not use the quadruple-decker architecture commonly associated with stack interchanges. Instead, it had a flattened layout, using the long, curving ramps to circumnavigate the crossing of the mainlines. This resulted in fewer tall bridges and gave the interchange its distinctive "circle" appearance.[citation needed] Since 2016, it has had a three-level stack in the center due to the realignment of the north-to-west ramp.

Both I-90/I-94 and I-290/Ida B. Wells Drive have three lanes in each direction at this interchange. Each of the ramps leading to and from the freeways is one lane wide, except for the ramp from eastbound I-290 to eastbound (southbound) I-90/94; this ramp is two lanes wide.[citation needed]

This interchange centers on Ida B. Wells Drive (the east–west surface street that is the continuation of the Eisenhower Expressway beyond its terminus several blocks east of the interchange) and extends roughly from Halsted Street on the west to Jefferson Street on the east.[citation needed]

The tracks of the Chicago Transit Authority Blue Line 'L' train pass directly underneath the center of the interchange, running in an east-west direction, as they transition from surface operation in the median of the Eisenhower Expressway, to a subway to the east of the Interchange. This complicates where support columns could be located in any future construction at this interchange.[4]


Originally known as the Congress Interchange and changed to Circle Interchange in 1964, it was built in the late 1950s and early 1960s, at the same time as the construction of the Kennedy Expressway.[citation needed]

The University of Illinois at Chicago is to the southwest of the interchange. When the campus opened in 1965, it was called the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle, making it the only university in the world known to be named after a freeway interchange.[5][6][7]

Due to its congestion, the May 2008 issue of Popular Mechanics listed this interchange among their list of the 10 Pieces of U.S. Infrastructure We Must Fix Now.[1]

In a dedication ceremony held on August 29, 2014, this interchange, formerly called the Circle Interchange, was renamed the Jane Byrne Interchange in honor of former Chicago Mayor Jane M. Byrne (1979–1983).[8] The market's radio and television traffic reporting services immediately instituted the interchange's new name, though many went with a dual reference of the "Jane Byrne–Circle Interchange" during a transition period until the services updated their maps and road signage was changed to reflect the new name, to avert confusion.

Reconstruction project

Traffic after the construction.
The interchange after the reconstruction.
The interchange after the reconstruction.

In August 2012, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) began the planning and design phases for the potential rehabilitation of this interchange.[9] It has established a project web site, which is being used to schedule public meetings.[9][10]

On April 3, 2013, the Chicago Tribune featured a front-page article on the estimated $420 million project, which was slated to take four years.[11][12] The project began in late 2013.[13] The interchange would receive a complete overhaul, including the addition of a flyover ramp from northbound I-90/I-94 to westbound I-290. It also sought to move the Taylor Street exit (from eastbound I-90/I-94 traffic) north.

The northwest flyover of the Jane Byrne Interchange opened on December 4, 2016, after which the old configuration closed down and then demolished.[14] Several more ramps, as well as the expressways themselves, were rebuilt during the course of the project. One ramp that connects from northbound Dan Ryan to eastbound Ida B. Wells was closed from the spring of 2014 to September 7, 2019. On the same day, the second lane of the flyover ramp, as well as the Morgan Street off-ramp, opened.[15]

Delays and increasing costs have caused the project to be tentatively scheduled to be finished by December 2022 with a $790 million price tag instead.[16][17]

See also


  1. ^ a b Sofge, Erik (April 7, 2008). "10 Pieces of U.S. Infrastructure We Must Fix Now—Brooklyn Bridge, Chicago, New Orleans—Rebuilding America". Popular Mechanics.
  2. ^ "Chapter 3". Traffic Congestion and Reliability: Trends and Advanced Strategies for Congestion Mitigation. Federal Highway Administration.
  3. ^ "Table 3-9. Top 25 Freight Highway Locations by Freight Congestion Index Rating: 2010". Federal Highway Administration. 2011.
  4. ^ http://www.circleinterchange.org/pdf/document_library/circle%20cdr_vol%201%20of%203.pdf[dead link]
  5. ^ Young, David M. (2005). "Spaghetti Bowl". Encyclopedia of Chicago. Chicago Historical Society. Retrieved January 26, 2008.
  6. ^ UIC Historian (2006). "Chicago Circle Campus Construction". Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. Retrieved February 1, 2008.
  7. ^ "Interchanging Identities". UIC School of Architecture. Archived from the original on September 3, 2012. Retrieved February 2, 2008.
  8. ^ "Circle Interchange to Be Renamed for Jane Byrne Today". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved August 29, 2014.
  9. ^ a b "Circle Interchange". Illinois Department of Transportation. Retrieved August 27, 2012.
  10. ^ "Public Meetings / Hearings". Illinois Department of Transportation. Retrieved February 22, 2013.
  11. ^ "Chicago Tribune: Chicago news, sports, weather, entertainment". chicagotribune.com. Archived from the original on April 3, 2013. Retrieved October 30, 2020.
  12. ^ Hilkevitch, Jon. "IDOT finalizing plan to unsnarl Circle Interchange". chicagotribune.com. Retrieved October 30, 2020.
  13. ^ "About | Jane Byrne Interchange". www.janebyrneinterchange.org. Retrieved October 30, 2020.
  14. ^ "Circle Interchange–Completed Projects". www.janebyrneinterchange.org.
  15. ^ Jindra, Sarah; Dwyer, Meghan (September 6, 2019). "Relief on the way for drivers at the Jane Byrne Interchange". WGN-TV. Retrieved April 7, 2022.
  16. ^ Varon, Roz (February 8, 2022). "Chicago construction on Jane Byrne Interchange to wrap up this year, IDOT says". ABC7 Chicago. Retrieved April 7, 2022.
  17. ^ "Byrne interchange construction will continue through 2022 | Gazette Chicago". gazettechicago.com. Retrieved October 30, 2020.