Governor Quinn Dedicates Jane Byrne Interchange PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Katie Hickey   
Tuesday, 02 September 2014 09:08

Governor Renames Circle Interchange in Honor

of Chicago’s First and Only Female Mayor to Date

CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today formally dedicated the “Jane Byrne Interchange” in downtown Chicago in honor of the woman who shattered glass ceilings in both regional and national politics by becoming the first woman to govern a major American city. Also known as the Circle Interchange, the meeting point of most of the city’s major highways is being completely reconstructed as part of the state’s largest ongoing road construction project.

“Jane Byrne is a daughter of Chicago who went on to break barriers and become this city’s first and only female mayor,” Governor Quinn said. “While leading the city, she fought tirelessly for Chicago’s children and low-income communities. The Jane Byrne Interchange will help ensure that her legacy and lasting impact on the city of Chicago are never forgotten.”

Jane Byrne was born and raised in Chicago, attending St. Scholastica High School and the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Circle Campus. She first served in Chicago city government as Commissioner of Sales, Weights, and Measures. Byrne was elected Mayor of Chicago in 1979 and served until April 29, 1983.

Byrne’s time as Mayor was marked by many firsts, including enacting the city’s handgun ban, a first for a major American city, and becoming the first Chicago Mayor to march in the Gay Pride Parade, setting an example of inclusivity for other cities across the country. Mayor Byrne initiated the now famous Taste of Chicago as well as the development of Navy Pier and the Museum Campus, producing long term growth and economic development for the city.

The Governor today designated the “Jane Byrne Interchange” by proclamation. The interchange contains interstates 90, 94 and 290, and is currently undergoing a four-year renovation by the Illinois Department of Transportation. The interchange connects the Kennedy, Dan Ryan and Eisenhower Expressways and the Congress Parkway, facilitating travel for more than 400,000 vehicles daily.

The interchange is a vital regional and local hub for commuters, businesses and freight movement, and the ongoing $420 million reconstruction project will address congestion and improve traffic flow in the area. The reconstructed interchange will reduce traffic delays by at least 50 percent and save drivers five million hours annually. The improved traffic flow will lead to a savings of 1.6 million gallons of fuel per year.

The interchange was constructed between 1958 and 1962, and has outlived its design life according to several performance indicators on safety, infrastructure condition and congestion. The interchange experiences an average of 940 crashes per year. In 2010, the Federal Highway Administration and the American Transportation Research Institute identified this joining of most of Chicago’s major highways as the number one bottleneck among highways crucial to the nation’s freight transportation system. Of the more than 400,000 vehicles that use the interchange each day, about 33,000 are trucks.

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