In Ill., $4B Tri-State Tollway (I-294) Interchange gets green light

Toll Road

A new, long-envisioned Tri-State Tollway (I-294) Interchange at 88th Avenue/Cork Avenue in the Village of Justice has just shifted into gear, and supporters say it will benefit the entire region.

Illinois Tollway officials joined U.S. Rep. Daniel Lipinski and officials from the Illinois Department of Transportation, Cook County and the Village of Justice on October 16 to recognize a multi-governmental partnership to advance planning and construction for the project.

“As part of our ongoing Central Tri-State Tollway Project, the tollway is committed to helping adjacent communities like Justice with improved access and mobility that will support economic development and jobs,” says Illinois Tollway Board Chairman Bob Schillerstrom.

“The tollway has a long history of working together with local communities and other agencies to share the costs of major improvements like this interchange that will benefit not just one town, but an entire region.”

The tollway’s $4 billion Central Tri-State Tollway Project is widening and improving 22 miles of I-294 between Balmoral Avenue in Rosemont and 95th Street in Oak Lawn. As part of the tollway’s 15-year, $14 billion Move Illinois capital program, the Central Tri-State Tollway is being reconstructed to provide congestion relief, encourage economic development and job growth, and meet current and future transportation demands.

“After working with the Village of Justice, Illinois Tollway, and IDOT for several years, I’m happy we have an agreement on this much-needed project. This is a big win for the village and the surrounding area,” says U.S. Rep. Daniel Lipinski.

“Once completed, it will improve access to and from I-294 for local residents and businesses, and help open the door to future economic development within the village and neighboring communities.”

The new interchange will be part of an enterprise zone created by the Village of Justice and will encourage new construction and support job creation in the village, as well as opening up an entryway to Justice and other surrounding communities to relieve traffic congestion and provide easier access to destinations including Toyota Park, home of the Chicago Fire soccer team.

“Building a new interchange here will open a vital new gateway into our village,” says Justice Mayor Kris Wasowicz. “Commercial trucks will be able to enter Justice directly from I-294, diverting them off local roads and allowing them to move their products more safely and efficiently. Many workers and residents also will have an easier time reaching their jobs or homes.”

In support of the multi-governmental commitment, the Tollway, Village of Justice, Cook County, IDOT and federal government are signing a memorandum of understanding to proceed with building the interchange.

The project is compatible with Cook County’s long-range Invest in Cook Initiative to encourage business development and growth by improving freight and traffic connections across the county.

Consistent with the tollway’s Interchange Policy requiring local communities to cover half of the cost of interchange improvements, the estimated $30 million project cost will be shared by state and local partners. The next step to move the project forward will be approval of an intergovernmental agreement to establish funding and participation for the project, a press release says.

With support from the Southwest Conference of Mayors, the Village of Justice has used about $1.4 million in federal funds to complete the initial environmental and engineering studies required to advance the project, and the next phase of additional engineering studies will be done by Justice.

The Village of Justice has completed preliminary engineering and environmental studies at 88th Avenue/Cork Avenue for the addition of a northbound exit ramp from I-294 and a southbound entrance ramp to I-294.

This work also would be compatible with a future northbound I-294 entrance ramp from Archer Road. Along with the new ramps, the project includes intersection improvements along 88th/Cork Avenue at 79th Street and Archer Road.

The Illinois Tollway’s 15-year, $14 billion capital program, Move Illinois: The Illinois Tollway Driving the Future, is improving mobility, relieving congestion, reducing pollution, creating as many as 120,000 jobs and linking economies throughout the region.

The Illinois Tollway is a user-fee system that receives no state or federal funds for maintenance and operations.