Interstate 190 Illinois

Routing

Interstate 190 is the spur from Interstate 90 into O'Hare International Airport, the world's second busiest airport after Atlanta's Hartsfield International Airport. Although it is primarily designed to connect to the airport, it is also the only way for traffic to connect from westbound Interstate 90 to southbound Interstate 294 (Tri-State Tollway). Interstate 190 is known as the Kennedy Expressway for its entire length, and they both terminate upon entering the airport. Passenger rail rapid transit follows Interstate 190 throughout its length, serving commuters between downtown and the airport. Toward the southeast, the Kennedy Expressway continues along Interstate 90 (and Interstate 94) to terminate at the downtown loop interchange (Junction Interstate 290 and Interstate 90/94).

History

The Kennedy Expressway, which connects Interstate 290/Eisenhower Expressway with O'Hare International Airport, opened to traffic on November 5, 1960.1, 2 This 16-mile expressway was constructed at a cost of $237 million. The section from the airport to the Northwest Tollway merge is designated as Interstate 190 (formerly Illinois 594, pre-1978); the section from the Northwest Tollway merge to the Edens Expressway merge is designated as Interstate 90 (formerly Illinois 194, pre-1978); and the section from the Edens Expressway southeast to the Interstate 290 junction (Circle Interchange) is designated as Interstate 90-94 (originally just Interstate 94, prior to 1978 when Interstate 90 was routed on the Eisenhower Expressway).

This freeway was originally named the Northwest Expressway, but it was renamed the John F. Kennedy Expressway on November 29, 1963, one week to the minute after the famous U.S. President was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. On February 1, 1970, new rapid transit rail service went into operation in the Kennedy Expressway median, shortly after commuter rail service began on the Dan Ryan Expressway segment of Interstate 90-94.1, 2 Interstate 190 was commissioned in 1978 (replacing Illinois 594) when several expressways in Chicagoland were renumbered. At the same time, Interstate 290 was created on the Eisenhower Expressway, and Interstate 90 replaced Illinois 194 on the Kennedy Expressway.

Western Terminus - O'Hare International Airport - Chicago, Illinois
Perspective from Interstate 190/Kennedy Expressway west
Westbound Interstate 190/Kennedy Expressway approaches Exits 2A-B, Junction U.S. 12-45, Mannheim Road. Note the speed limit drops to 35 miles per hour here. Photos taken 09/03/05.
Westbound Interstate 190 reaches Exit 2B, Junction Southbound U.S. 12-45, Mannheim Road. This is the last exit before the airport, and it is the end of the section of Interstate 190 maintained by the Illinois Department of Transportation. Photos taken by Brian Dowd (11/28/02) and on 09/03/05.
Now entering city of Chicago maintenance, all remaining exits on westbound serve the airport. The state maintained section of Interstate 190 ends after Exit 2A. The next exit along westbound is Bessie Coleman Drive, which serves the International Terminal, select rental car pickup/dropoff, and economy parking. Photo taken 09/03/05.
Westbound reaches the exit for Bessie Coleman Drive, which connects to the International Terminal (#5). This exit is a recent addition. Photo taken 09/03/05.
Welcome to Chicago's O'Hare International Airport signage as seen on westbound Interstate 190/Kennedy Expressway. At this point, Interstate 190 ends and the airport loop wraps around to serve each of the terminals. Use the upper deck for departures and lower deck for arrivals. Photo taken 09/03/05.
Interstate 190 becomes the airport access road, providing connections to all terminals, parking, and other airport services. This road eventually changes directions and turns east back toward the city, making Interstate 190 into a freeway cul-de-sac. Photo taken 09/03/05.
Perspective from Eastbound Interstate 190/O'Hare Airport Loop Road
Upon following the airport access road past the terminals, the access road turns east and starts to leave O'Hare International Airport. This is the first sign to advise of the pending beginning of eastbound Interstate 190/Kennedy Expressway to downtown Chicago (Loop). Photo taken 09/03/05.
After passing by the various terminals of O'Hare International Airport, these warning lights can also act as metering lights for the upcoming freeway. Photo taken 09/03/05.
For eastbound Interstate 190/Kennedy Expressway and for Exit 2A, Junction U.S. 12-45/Mannheim Road north, keep left. The next exit serves as the Airport Return/Rental Car Pickup as well as Exit 2B, Junction U.S. 12-45/Mannheim Road south. From here, the airport service road transitions back into a freeway. Photo taken 09/03/05.
These signs were placed by the city/airport, not by the Illinois Department of Transportation, hence why exit numbers are omitted and the sign bridge is of a different structure than the standard Illinois bridges. This photo was taken along eastbound Interstate 190/Kennedy Expressway approaching Exits 2A-B, Junction U.S. 12-45, Mannheim Road. The other signs point to various airport services. Photo taken 09/03/05.
Welcome to Chicago! The sky on this clear, beautiful day matches the picture of the downtown Chicago skyline. Photo taken 09/03/05.
Eastbound Interstate 190/Kennedy Expressway approaching Exit 2A, Junction Northbound U.S. 12-45, Mannheim Road, one quarter mile. Photo taken 09/03/05.
This is the first reassurance shield for Interstate 190 found along eastbound Interstate 190/Kennedy Expressway near Mannheim Road (U.S. 12-45). Photo taken 09/03/05.
Eastbound Interstate 190/Kennedy Expressway approaches Exit 2A, Junction Northbound U.S. 12-45, Mannheim Road. The next exit is Exit 1D, Junction Southbound Interstate 294/Tri-State Tollway. Photo taken 09/03/05.
Eastbound Interstate 190/Kennedy Expressway reaches Exit 2A, Junction Northbound U.S. 12-45, Mannheim Road. The next exit is Exit 1D, Junction Southbound Interstate 294/Tri-State Tollway. Notably, the exit numbers seem to decrease from west to east, which is not the normal way to number an east-west interstate highway. This sign was removed during reconstruction of the Mannheim Road interchange. Photo taken by Brian Dowd (11/28/02).
This is the gore point signage for U.S. 12-45, Mannheim Road north (Exit 2A). Photo taken 09/03/05.
A trailblazer shield for Interstate 294 south is posted after U.S. 12-45, Mannheim Road and before the exit for Interstate 294, the Tri-State Tollway. Photo taken 09/03/05.
Eastbound Interstate 190/Kennedy Expressway meets Interstate 294/Tri-State Tollway south at Exit 2D. Use Interstate 294 to the West and South Suburbs of Chicago as well as Indiana. The next exit is Exit 1C, Junction Interstate 294/Tri-State Tollway north to the North Suburbs, Interstate 90/Northwest Tollway west, and Wisconsin. Photo taken 09/03/05.
Eastbound Interstate 190/Kennedy Expressway approaches Exit 1C, Junction Northbound Interstate 294/Tri-State Tollway to Westbound Interstate 90/Outbound Northwest Tollway, one-half mile. Photo taken by Brian Dowd (11/28/02).
Eastern Terminus - Interstate 90 - Chicago, Illinois
Perspective from Westbound Interstate 90/Outbound Kennedy Expressway
The first advisory sign of the pending split between Interstate 90 and Interstate 190 is located between Exit 81A, Junction Illinois 43/Harlem Avenue and Exit 80, Canfield Road along westbound Interstate 90/Kennedy Expressway. At the split, Interstate 90 will shift onto the Northwest Tollway en route to Elgin and Rockford, while Interstate 190 will continue west on the Kennedy Expressway into Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. Photo taken 09/03/05.
The next signage for Interstate 190 appears along westbound Interstate 90 at Exit 78A, Cumberland Avenue northbound offramp. In another 0.75 mile, Interstate 90 and Interstate 190 will split (at Exit 79). The cloverleaf ramp for Illinois 171 south/Exit 78B to Norridge and River Grove is in 0.25 mile. Photo taken 09/03/05.
The next exit along westbound Interstate 90/Kennedy Expressway is Exit 78B, Junction Illinois 171 south to Norridge and River Grove. Photo taken 09/03/05.
Westbound Interstate 90/Kennedy Expressway approaches the Interstate 90/190 split. Interstate 190 is the only direct connection from westbound Interstate 90 to southbound Interstate 294, as shown by this sign. Traffic headed for northbound Interstate 294 should use Interstate 90 westbound from this interchange. Interstate 190 is the only free route at this point. Photo taken 09/03/05.
The left three lanes carry Interstate 90/Northwest Tollway to the junction with Interstate 294/Tri-State Tollway north as well as Elgin, Rockford, Beloit, and Madison. The right two lanes are the continuation of the Kennedy Expressway along Interstate 190 to O'Hare International Airport as well as Interstate 294/Tri-State Tollway south. Photo taken 09/03/05.
Nearing the Interstate 90/190 split on westbound. Rockford is the westbound control city for the Northwest Tollway. The Winnebago County seat is 58 miles from this junction. This is last exit number on westbound Interstate 90 until just south of Beloit, Wisconsin, after the Northwest Tollway ends. Currently, the Illinois Tollway does not use exit numbering. Photo taken 09/03/05.
Interstate 190 prepares to split from Interstate 90. The first mainline exit of Interstate 190 is Exit 2/Des Plaines Road serving the community of Rosemont. Traffic for Interstate 294 south departs via Exit 1C. Photo taken 09/03/05.
Perspective from Westbound Interstate 190/Outbound Kennedy Expressway
Now on westbound Interstate 190/Kennedy Expressway, exit numbers increase from east to west, which is not the common convention. Photo taken 09/03/05.
The first exit along westbound is Exit 1, River Road, followed by Exit 1D, Junction Interstate 294/Tri-State Tollway south. Photo taken 09/03/05.
Westbound Interstate 190/Kennedy Expressway reaches Exit 1, River Road. The next exit is Exit 1D, Junction Interstate 294 south. Photo taken 09/03/05.
The connecting ramp to southbound Interstate 294/Tri-State Tollway is a left exit from westbound Interstate 190. The next exit is Exit 2A, Junction U.S. 12-45/Mannheim Road north. Photo taken 09/03/05.
The left lane departs to southbound Interstate 294/Tri-State Tollway (Exit 1D), while the right two lanes continue west on Interstate 190 toward the airport. Photo taken 09/03/05.
Perspective from Eastbound Interstate 90/Inbound Northwest Tollway
Eastbound Interstate 90/Northwest Tollway approaching Junction Southbound Interstate 294/Tri-State Tollway, Westbound Interstate 190/O'Hare International Airport, and Northbound Interstate 294/Tri-State Tollway, seven miles. Nothing like good advance warning! Photo taken by Brian Dowd (11/28/02).
Eastbound Interstate 90/Northwest Tollway approaching Junction Southbound Interstate 294/Tri-State Tollway, Westbound Interstate 190/O'Hare International Airport, and Northbound Interstate 294/Tri-State Tollway, two miles. Photo taken by Brian Dowd (11/28/02).
Eastbound Interstate 90/Northwest Tollway approaching Junction Southbound Interstate 294/Tri-State Tollway, Westbound Interstate 190/O'Hare International Airport, and Northbound Interstate 294/Tri-State Tollway, one mile. Photo taken by Brian Dowd (11/28/02).
Eastbound Interstate 90/Northwest Tollway at Junction Southbound Interstate 294/Tri-State Tollway to Westbound Interstate 190/O'Hare International Airport. The next exit is for Northbound Interstate 294/Tri-State Tollway. Photo taken by Brian Dowd (11/28/02).
Eastbound Interstate 90/Northwest Tollway at Junction Northbound Interstate 294/Tri-State Tollway. Photo taken by Brian Dowd (11/28/02).
Perspective from Eastbound Interstate 190/Inbound Kennedy Expressway
Now traveling east, the inbound Interstate 190/Kennedy Expressway passes under a railroad viaduct as it approaches Junction Interstate 90/Northwest Tollway and Interstate 294/Tri-State Tollway. Photo taken by Brian Dowd (11/28/02).
Eastbound Interstate 190/Kennedy Expressway reaches Exit 1C, Junction Northbound Interstate 294/Tri-State Tollway to Westbound Interstate 90/Northwest Tollway. Photo taken by Brian Dowd (11/28/02).
Just past Exits 2A/B with Des Plaines River Road is the zero milepost of Interstate 190. Traffic is defaulted onto Interstate 90 eastbound, the Kennedy Expressway. An END shield was added to this pole between 2003 and 2007. Photos taken by Bill Burmaster (11/13/07) and Chris Patriarca (05/26/03).
Interstate 190 eastbound merges onto Interstate 90. The first Interstate 90 interchange Interstate 190 motorists encounter is Exit 79A for Illinois 171/Cumberland Avenue south. The state highway sees its northern terminus nearby when it intersects Illinois 72. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/26/03).
Perspective from Interstate 294/Tri-State Tollway north
Now looking at the northbound Interstate 294/Tri-State Tollway, this is the first advance sign for Interstate 190/Kennedy Expressway west to O'Hare International Airport, Interstate 90/Northwest Tollway west to Rockford, and Interstate 90/Kennedy Expressway east to Chicago. Photos taken 09/03/05 and by Steve Hanudel (05/14/06).
This is the one-mile advance sign for Interstate 190 and Interstate 90 as seen along northbound Interstate 294/Tri-State Tollway. Photos taken 09/03/05 and by Steve Hanudel (05/14/06).
The right two lanes connect to westbound Interstate 190, eastbound Interstate 90/Kennedy Expressway, and westbound Interstate 90/Northwest Tollway west, while the left three lanes continue north on Interstate 294/Tri-State Tollway to Milwaukee. Photos taken 09/03/05 and by Steve Hanudel (05/14/06).
Northbound Interstate 294 splits at this major interchange. The right lanes connect to Interstate 190 and Interstate 90, while the left lanes continue north on Interstate 294. Use the ramp to Interstate 190 for the connection to River Road. Photos taken 09/03/05 and by Steve Hanudel (05/14/06).
Once on the transition ramp from Interstate 294/Tri-State Tollway, the lanes again divide. The right two lanes provide the direct connection to westbound Interstate 190/Kennedy Expressway to O'Hare International Airport, while the left two lanes connect to westbound Interstate 90/Northwest Tollway and eastbound Interstate 90/Kennedy Expressway. Photo taken 09/03/05.
After Interstate 190/Kennedy Expressway departs toward O'Hare International Airport, this sign is posted for the subsequent split between westbound Interstate 90/Northwest Tollway to Rockford and eastbound Interstate 90/Kennedy Expressway to Chicago. Photo taken 09/03/05.
Perspective from Interstate 294/Tri-State Tollway south
This is the five-mile advance sign for the junction with Interstate 90, as seen from southbound Interstate 294/Tri-State Tollway at the Illinois 58/Golf Road interchange. Photo taken 09/02/05.
Southbound Interstate 294/Tri-State Tollway approaching Junction Westbound Interstate 90/Northwest Tollway, Eastbound Interstate 90/Kennedy Expressway, and Westbound Interstate 190/Kennedy Expressway, two miles. Photo taken 09/02/05.
Southbound Interstate 294 approaching Junction Westbound Interstate 90/Northwest Tollway, Eastbound Interstate 90/Kennedy Expressway, and Westbound Interstate 190/Kennedy Expressway, three-quarters of a mile. Photo taken 09/02/05.
Southbound Interstate 294 approaching Junction Westbound Interstate 90/Northwest Tollway and Eastbound Interstate 90/Kennedy Expressway. Interstate 190 is shown on the roadside sign in the distance (see next photobox). Note the presence of the state name in the Interstate 90 shields. Photo taken 09/02/05.
Southbound Interstate 294 approaching Junction Westbound Interstate 90/Northwest Tollway, Eastbound Interstate 90/Kennedy Expressway, and Westbound Interstate 190/Kennedy Expressway, next exit. It is surprising that the previous overhead sign assembly did not include reference to Interstate 190. Photo taken 09/02/05.
Southbound Interstate 294 reaches Junction Westbound Interstate 90/Northwest Tollway and Eastbound Interstate 90/Kennedy Expressway. Note the use of a flyover ramp to connect the Tri-State Tollway (Interstate 294) to the eastbound ("inbound") Kennedy Expressway (Interstate 90). Interstate 190 is shown on the roadside sign in the distance (see next photobox). Photo taken 09/02/05.
Southbound Interstate 294/Tri-State Tollway at Junction Westbound Interstate 190/Kennedy Expressway to O'Hare Airport. Photo taken by Brian Dowd (11/28/02).
A full forty cent toll is required for traffic exiting southbound Interstate 294 onto westbound Interstate 190. This toll barrier is on the transition from southbound Interstate 294 onto westbound Interstate 190/Kennedy Expressway. Interestingly, even though this photo is classified with the eastern terminus pictures, this entrance ramp is very close to the western terminus of Interstate 190, as Exits 2A-B (Junction U.S. 12-45) are visible in the distance. Photo taken by Brian Dowd (11/28/02).
Perspective from Nearby Surface Streets
Signage for Interstates 90 and 190 (shields). Photo taken by Nick Poulos (05/02).
Westbound Illinois 72 with signage pointing toward Interstates 90 and 190. Through this area, Illinois 72 closely parallels Interstate 90/Northwest Tollway. Photo taken by Nick Poulos (05/02).

Sources:

  1. Chicago Timeline: 1960 Northwest Expressway Completed; November 29, 1963 Renamed The John F. Kennedy Expressway, Chicago Public Library, updated August 1997
  2. Encyclopedia of Chicago: Expressways by Dennis McClendon of the Chicago Historical Society

Page Updated December 1, 2007.

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