News - Joliet and Will County

Traffic bottleneck stretches more than 6 miles in Joliet on first day of I-80 project

IDOT encourages motorists to seek alternate routes on weekends

I-80 eastbound traffic merges down to one lane near the Center Street exit. Sept. 9, 2022, in Joliet.

Traffic backed up at least 6 miles on eastbound Interstate 80 through Joliet on Friday, the first day in what will be eight consecutive weekends of roadwork narrowing traffic to one lane.

The work will continue until Monday morning, although Illinois Department of Transportation officials said they expect congestion to ease with the lighter weekend traffic while still advising motorists to seek alternate routes.

“It has been better than expected,” IDOT Region 1 Engineer Jose Rios said Friday morning of the I-80 traffic. “You’re running so much traffic into one lane. There’s no choice. It’s also heavy truck traffic.”

IDOT said the stretch of I-80 typically handles 80,000 vehicles a day with 25% of that being truck traffic.

Rios and other IDOT officials were in Shorewood Friday for an event announcing details of a future Interstate 55 interchange at Route 59.

They said eastbound I-80 was backed up 6-7 miles during the morning rush period.

IDOT officials have been warning for weeks that motorists should consider alternate routes during the project, which involves road repairs between Raynor Avenue and Gardner Street.

Rios said traffic issues would have been worse if not for the public information campaign, which included 33 electronic messaging signs along I-80 warning motorists of the weekend lane closures.

Westbound traffic moved smoothly, but the situation likely is to reverse next weekend. IDOT plans to alternate between eastbound and westbound lanes during the course of the project.

I-80 eastbound traffic merges down to one lane near the Center Street exit. Sept. 9, 2022, in Joliet.

The schedule for weekend work will continue, weather permitting, with lanes being closed at 10 p.m. Thursdays and reopened at 5 a.m. Mondays.

IDOT officials noted there would be periods when motorists may be frustrated to see no work occurring while lanes are closed. But they said the road needs to cure after the improvements before the lanes can be reopened.

IDOT is improving the road surface as part of a long-term project that will stretch 16 miles from Route 30 in New Lenox to Ridge Road in Minooka and include new interchanges, replacement of the Des Plaines River bridges, and new auxiliary lanes to improve access at interchanges.