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$2.1 billion more sought to improve, widen Tri-State Tollway

Big changes are coming for the central portion of the Tri-State Tollway. | File photo

An ambitious plan to rebuild I-294 has grown into an even bigger $4 billion plan to add lanes to the tollway, at a budget more than double the original proposal.

No toll increase would be needed to fund the plan, which is on the Illinois Tollway Board’s agenda for its Thursday meeting, according to the Tollway.

About $1.9 billion is in the pipeline as part of an already approved plan to rebuild the 22-mile central portion of the Tri-State, from Balmoral Avenue south to 95th Street.

The enhanced project would need an additional $2.1 billion. It would include adding lanes and making other improvements, which Tollway officials predict could increase “peak” travel speeds from 24 mph to 45 mph.

That central portion of the Tri-State “is a patchwork of pavement that includes original 60-year-old roadway and key infrastructure that is deteriorating,” Tollway Board Chairman Bob Schillerstrom was quoted as saying in a news release. “If the Tollway is going to make the best investment for our customers and the region, we need to expand these plans.”

The recommended fixes include:

  • Additional lanes, including a “Flex Lane” for the entire 22-mile stretch. The Flex Lane is a controlled-access wide inside shoulder.
  • Improved interchanges at I-290 and I-55.
  • Addressing stormwater runoff with communities along the route.
  • Also under consideration: additional noise walls, landscaping and bike/pedestrian connections; new truck parking to reduce freight congestion.

Tollway officials have been holding a series of meetings to solicit comments from the public. Remaining meetings are: 6 p.m. Tuesday, Lipinski Community Center, 7256 Skyline Dr., Justice; and 6 p.m. Wednesday, O’Hare Oasis, 10201 Belle Plaine Ave., Schiller Park.

Comments may also be submitted online either at illinoistollway.com/outreach or via email at 294tristate@getipass.com.