Why Does Traffic On The Kennedy Expressway Get Backed Up?

Why does traffic on the Kennedy Expressway backup at the Eden’s junction?

That’s the question asked and answered by WBEZ 91.5 FM resident historian John R. Schmidt.

Isn’t it simply too many vehicles traveling on too few miles of roadway? According to Schmidt, it has to do with how the expressway was originally constructed back in the 1950′s.

Schmidt says back then, all the city’s expressways were designed with the idea of allowing traffic to flow in and out of the city. Traffic engineers didn’t take into consideration the idea of local drivers using the expressways for local, crosstown driving–thus underestimating traffic volumes.

Although Schmidt, admittedly is not a traffic engineer, he shares a few ideas on how he thinks some of the traffic could be moderated.

Here’s Schmidt’s full piece, “Why the Kennedy backs up at the Edens junction.”

5 Responses to Why Does Traffic On The Kennedy Expressway Get Backed Up?

  1. JohnD1 says:

    First off, I am NOT trying to be a troll.

    Regarding increasing expressway size–it is often self-defeating, as traffic increases with the roadway, making the jams as bad as before.

    The New Jersey Turnpike discovered that 4 lanes is the absolute maximum that a road should be, as lane changes near intersections cause major traffic slowdowns, and increased accidents. Near New York City they actually built a second roadway next to the first.

    So, no, I don’t believe that the money should be spent widening the Kennedy.

  2. Jeff says:


    According to the article:

    “Beween 2007 and 2011, there were 1,083 crashes on the Kennedy from I-190 and Harlem Avenue that caused 150 injuries and 4 deaths, state officials said. A crash typically occured every 36 hours, most near the Cumberland and Harlem interchages, officials said.”

    This is not just a “let’s build as many lanes as possible” kind of deal, like you would find in Houston or Atlanta. This proposal is designed to address real and documented road safety issues. This is not an Illiana Expressway kind of situation, merely adding capacity for capacity’s sake.

  3. Pete says:

    Human stupidity is the cause of all traffic congestion and crashes. Bring on the driverless car and make it mandatory! I’m only half-kidding about the mandatory part.

  4. B says:

    I over looked the plan documents because of the spasm they were having over on the streetsblog… Basically they are expanding a very short section of I90 to four lanes so they can separate I90 and I190. EB could end up very badly as it goes from three lanes to two and then to four when I190 finally combines and then to three.

    WB doesn’t look too bad… goes from three to four to three-two split.

    It will probably be safer. I don’t know about flow improvements. What should be addressed is the drivers that can’t merge, can’t use mirrors, signals, plan ahead etc…

    But automated roads would be hell… because they would be controlled politically by political people.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>