CHICAGO — Thousands of vehicles drive on the Kennedy Expressway every day, and with construction gone for the next few months, drivers are hoping that less stressful and improved commutes are on the horizon.

After nine months of construction work, all inbound lanes, reversible lanes, and ramps on the Kennedy Expressway have re-opened.

While the changes are still fresh, some drivers say they have already noticed a shorter commute time.

“I was at O’Hare by the outlet fashion mall and I had to get to downtown in less than 30 minutes. it was great,” one driver said.

This excitement comes after the first phase of a three-year, multi-million dollar project wraps up.

Since March, crews have worked on lane improvements, repairing bridge decks, installing new signs and upgrading LED lighting. But during this time, construction caused increased traffic, congestion and delays due to multiple closures of the 7.5-mile stretch from the Edens Expressway junction to Ohio Street.

“People tend to drive crazy with the lanes being closed it causes a lot of accidents,” driver Wendy Cruz said.

Some work will still be conducted on the inbound lanes during off-peak and overnight hours, but overall, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) predicts that driving on Interstate 90/94 will be smoother during the morning and evening rush.

“I don’t drive on the Kennedy, but I do drive on the Eisenhower. The hope is that with traffic easing on the Kennedy that will ease traffic throughout the city,” Jeff Olshesky, another driver, said.

While phase one is complete, phase 2 of construction will pick up in March of 2024. Once construction in the spring begins, work will focus on the express lanes in both directions.

IDOT officials say they hope the entire project will be done by 2025.