I-80 project in Joliet area enters new phase, early work starts next week

Project will continue until the end of 2028

A signs alerts drivers of construction on westbound Interstate 80 on Wednesday, March 20, 2024 in Joliet.

The Interstate 80 project moves forward this year with the reconstruction of 12 miles of highway, a job expected to have a major impact on traffic moving through Joliet.

Preparation work for the 2024 phase of construction starts next week.

The Illinois Department of Transportation on Tuesday provided a look at the next phase of the $1.3 billion I-80 project that stretch 16 miles from New Lenox through Joliet and into Minooka.

The project has been in progress since 2021 and is expected to be essentially completed by the end of 2028.

IDOT has been working on bridges and reconfiguring lanes to accommodate the construction. But this will be the first year that it begins actually rebuilding the main lanes of the highway in the construction corridor.

The 12 miles of road under reconstruction this year run from River Road in Minooka to Wheeler Avenue in Joliet and from Rowell Avenue in Joliet to Gougar Road in New Lenox.

Two lanes will remain open in both directions, IDOT officials said. But shoulders will be closed and lanes will be reconfigured, creating a construction zone that will slow down traffic through much of the 16-mile corridor.

Smaller bridges also will be under reconstruction and interchanges will continue to be improved along the corridor.

One thing that won’t happen this year is the most stupendous part of the project – the construction of new bridges over the Des Plaines River.

“The replacement of the Des Plaines River bridges is the last piece, and it’s anticipated to begin in 2026,” Phil Gibson, IDOT resident engineer for the project, said during the media briefing.

The new bridges, one for eastbound traffic and one for westbound traffic, will be built next to the existing bridges, which will continue to be used throughout the project. The new bridges are expected to be completed by the end of 2028, essentially ending the I-80 construction project but for the demolition of the existing bridges. Demolition would follow in 2029.

What’s coming up soon

• Week of April 1 – overnight lane closures in both directions between Rowell Avenue and Gougar Road from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. as lane patterns are changed and shoulders are closed to set up the construction zone

• Week of April 8 – crews begin shifting westbound I-80 between River and Ridge roads onto temporary pavement, a job that will require overnight lane closures between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.

• Week of April 15 – eastbound I-80 will be shifted over to the westbound lanes and traffic will be separated with concrete barriers between Ridge and River roads, a job that will require overnight lane closures from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Similar closures will take place in coming months as the project moves east into Joliet.

Interchange work will be done at Interstate 55, Larkin Avenue, Richards Street and Briggs Street. The Richards Street interchange will be shut down completely later this year and remain closed until the end of 2025.

The project includes additional auxiliary lanes at interchanges to improve access to I-80 and exits from the highway.

The Joliet-area section of the highway gets 80,000 vehicles a day, 25% of which are trucks, said IDOT Project Implementation Engineer Issam Rayyan.

“This will improve access and reduce congestion,” Rayyan said of the improvements.

More details on the project can be found on the IDOT website I80will.org.

The Joliet-area section of the highway gets 80,000 vehicles a day, 25% of which are trucks, he said.

For more information visit I80will.org. The mobile-friendly website features project information, photos, and the ability to submit questions and comments to the project team via a “Contact” link. Find traffic and road conditions at www.gettingaroundillinois.com. You also can follow IDOT on Facebook and X.