Today Gov. Pat Quinn, Illinois Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur, Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider and DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin broke ground on the long-awaited Elgin O’Hare Western Access Project.
It is considered to be the largest roadway project in the state and one of the largest in the nation. The $3.4 billion project includes 17 miles of new toll roads and 15 new or improved interchanges and will bring needed congestion relief, reduced travel times, new access to O’Hare International Airport and thousands of jobs for residents of the region. The historic project is part of Quinn’s agenda to create jobs and drive Illinois’ economy forward.
“Today, we’re making history by breaking ground on what will soon become a new, state-of-the-art roadway that will take you from the northwest suburbs to O’Hare International Airport,” Quinn said. “This historic project will improve travel throughout the region and make Illinois an even stronger inland port to the nation and world while creating thousands of jobs.”
The soon-to-be-reconstructed road - which was called the Elgin O’Hare Expressway - and the new roadway that will extend east along Thorndale Avenue to O'Hare, is now designated as Illinois Route 390. The roadway will be the first all-electronic toll road in Illinois and follows the vision set by Governor Quinn’s Advisory Council, which brought together local communities, businesses, regional planning and transportation experts, labor and public finance to reach consensus on the project.
The project is part of the Tollway’s 15-year, $12 billion capital program, Move Illinois: The Illinois Tollway Driving the Future. It is expected to create or support as many as 65,000 jobs by 2040 when combined with completion of the western terminal at O'Hare International Airport.
“I am so pleased to unveil the new Illinois Route 390 designation with Governor Quinn and so many others who have worked for decades to move this project forward,” Lafleur said. “It is through the cooperation of all the local governments and DuPage County that we are here today, ready to begin construction. Nothing says progress like shovels in the ground and I am certain that we will all remember this day for many years to come.”
Schneider added, “The Elgin O'Hare Western Access Project will dramatically improve transportation throughout Illinois' northwest suburbs, the Midwest region and beyond.”
And Cronin said the project would jump start the local economy.
“Western access to O’Hare Airport and the surrounding commercial and industrial areas will create jobs, stimulate our economy and relieve traffic congestion in our region,” Cronin said.
The first phase of the Elgin O'Hare Western Access Project will widen and rehabilitate Illinois Route 390, including reconfiguring the interchange at I-290 and constructing a new interchange at Illinois Route 53 (Rohlwing Road).
Much of this initial work is expected to be completed by the end of 2015, including six ramps for the new interchange at I-290. The full interchange is expected to be complete by the end of 2016. Work to extend the highway east to O’Hare Airport will be completed by 2018.
In 2018, work will begin to construct a new toll road along the western edge of O’Hare International Airport that will connect the west-east roadway with the Tri-State Tollway (I-294) and then north to the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90). After the project is completed in 2025, up to 120,000 vehicles per day are expected to use the roadway.
The Elgin O'Hare Western Access Project is considered a Project of National and Regional Significance by the U.S. Department of Transportation due to its overall magnitude and the potential to dramatically improve mobility, freight connectivity and enhance the national and regional economies.
The project is expected to enhance economic development and travel performance in the region. It will save drivers $145 million in time and fuel annually by 2040; decrease traffic by more than 16 percent during rush hour and reduce delays on local roads by 24 percent; accommodate three times as many vehicles per day as local roads now carry; reduce travel time by more than seven minutes for the 11-mile trip between the west side of O'Hare Airport and U.S. Route 20 – a savings of 25 percent; and relieve congestion near the existing I-290 and Thorndale Avenue interchange, where construction of new interchanges will reduce travel times by up to 35 percent.