The Illinois Tollway is rebuilding and widening 62 mi. (99.8 km) of the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90) as a 21st century, state-of-the-art corridor linking Rockford to O’Hare International Airport.
The Illinois Tollway is rebuilding and widening 62 mi. (99.8 km) of the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90) as a 21st century, state-of-the-art corridor linking Rockford to O’Hare International Airport, as Dan Rozek, senior manager of communications. Illinois Tollway, describes it.
Prior to the opening of the 76-mi. (122.3 km) portion of the Tollway in August 1958, the first vehicle to officially use the roadway was a covered wagon driven by a local resident. This section, originally called the Northwest Tollway, was renamed for Jane Addams, Nobel Peace Prize winner and founder of the Settlement House movement, in September 2007. It is the only tollway in Illinois with a U.S. highway running along it.
Because most of the Tollway’s infrastructure is more than 55 years old, it has degraded due to residential and commercial growth that has strained it beyond capacity. Repeated resurfacing and repair work are no longer able to extend its life. Commuters complain of increased delays while local business owners bemoan weakened economic activity because of it.
The $2.5 billion project is part of the Tollway’s 15-year, $12 billion capital program, Move Illinois: The Illinois Tollway Driving the Future, a 15-year, $12 billion capital program approved by the Illinois Tollway board of directors.
The four-year project is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2016. In addition to rebuilding and widening the 62-mi. stretch of I-90 with eight lanes from the Tri-State Tollway (I-294) to Randall Road and six lanes from Randall Road to I-39, the project will allow the Tollway to accommodate transit options for the I-90 corridor.
“This will be a completely new roadway that will safely carry more vehicles with less congestion while incorporating state-of-the-art technology to make traveling along this crucial corridor more convenient for drivers,” said Illinois Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur.
The corridor is projected to accommodate more than 15,000 trucks carrying 375,000 tons (340,194 t) of freight per day. It is expected to save drivers up to 27 minutes on the average trip from Elgin to the Kennedy Expressway.
Local business owners should be pleased by the enhanced access this and other Move Illinois projects will provide by construction of new and improved interchanges. In addition, the improved roadway will accommodate as many as 30,000 more vehicles per day between Elgin and I-294, and up to 83,000 vehicles daily along the entire 62-mi. length of the corridor and will save drivers $440 million annually due to reduced congestion and delays. The economic investment is projected to cost $390-$430 million.
The project also will create new jobs and generate increased economic development by offering businesses a better way to connect with their customers. When completed, the project is expected to create or sustain as many as 11,500 permanent additional jobs in the Chicago region.
The work has been divided into two segments for planning, design and construction. The western segment stretches 37 mi. (59.5 km) from Rockford to Elgin; the eastern segment runs 25 mi. (40 km) from Elgin to Chicago.
In October 2014, work was completed on the 37-mi. western portion of I-90, which was widened from four lanes to six lanes between Elgin and I-39 in Rockford.
The 25-mi. (40 km) eastern portion will be rebuilt and widened from six lanes to eight lanes from Randall Road in Elgin to the Tri-State Tollway (I-294). Scheduled for completion in 2016, this year’s work includes noisewall and retaining wall installation, utility relocation and drainage work in advance of roadway rebuilding.
Work also includes new and improved interchanges and reconstruction of the Fox River Bridge and local crossroad bridges throughout the corridor to accommodate the wider roadway.
The Tollway is providing $240 million to integrate transit options along this portion of roadway — the first time the agency has integrated transit into a toll road — and provide for future transit expansion plans.
Park & Ride facilities will be constructed on the eastern portion of I-90 and Pace will create new routes and expand existing service by using a widened inner shoulder as a travel lane to improve reliability and reduce traffic delays.
A key feature of the project is the Tollway’s commitment to maintaining the same number of traffic lanes during construction. The Tollway anticipates keeping three lanes of traffic open in each direction on the eastern portion of I-90 during peak hours.
State of the Art
The rebuilding and widening project will add the latest technologies available, including building active traffic management on a 16-m. (25.7 km) portion of I-90 between Barrington Road and I-294. These improvements will allow the Tollway to provide real-time traffic information to drivers, including posting alerts regarding traffic congestion, accidents and lane closures.
New flexible infrastructure built into the roadway will enable the Tollway to add new “smart” features as needed or as they become available in the future.
The project includes “green” initiatives that minimize the environmental impact of construction by reducing, recycling and reusing materials. Supplemental cements such as fly ash and ground-granulated slag from industrial waste are green materials that are being used on concrete bridges. Reusing these materials not only lowers the cost of the work, Rozek said, but also reduces the need for virgin asphalt materials and reduces the volume of material that would otherwise be sent to landfills.
By adopting a corridor approach to stormwater management and integrating energy-efficient lighting, the project is minimizing environmental impact. The Fox River Bridge on I-90 in Elgin is being rebuilt at a cost of $95 million with features to reduce its impact on the river and nearby forested fen, including building eight spans supported by seven piers, instead of the 14 piers used to support the original bridge. The number of piers built in the Fox River will be reduced from six to three. Stormwater from the bridge will be captured and then diverted through a treatment process before it is discharged into the river.
Other new green construction initiatives include a geothermal water piping system that makes use of the earth’s natural heating and cooling abilities to help heat and cool nearby plaza buildings in a more cost-effective and sustainable manner, reflective roofs and trellised vegetation for plaza buildings to further reduce heating and cooling costs, and ramp shoulder pavement that will allow water to seep through and reduce stormwater runoff.
The Tollway also is working to protect and restore native prairie, forested fen and wetlands as part of the Tollway’s wetland mitigation efforts.
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