Elgin O'Hare Western Access (EOWA) Project Overview
The Elgin O'Hare Western Access (EOWA) Project has the potential to change the face of Illinois' northwest suburbs, the Midwest region and beyond.
Due to the overall magnitude of the project and potential to dramatically improve mobility, freight connectivity and enhance the national and regional economies, the EOWA Project is considered a Project of National and Regional Significance by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
The EOWA Project includes construction of a new, all-electronic toll road around the western border of O'Hare International Airport linking the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90) and the Tri-State Tollway (I-294), the extension of the Elgin O'Hare Expressway east along Thorndale Avenue to O'Hare and the rehabilitation and widening of the existing Elgin O'Hare Expressway. The 2013-2025 construction plan is broadly supported by local governments and represents a fiscally responsible approach to address the area's diverse travel needs — improving travel efficiency, providing western access to O'Hare, enhancing multi-modal connections and reducing congestion.
The project includes:
- Adding two lanes to the existing Elgin O'Hare Expressway between Illinois Route 19 and Meacham/Medinah Road and converting to a toll road with minor interchange improvements at Illinois Route 19 and Roselle Road and an improved interchange at Meacham/Medinah Road.
- Extending the Elgin O'Hare Expressway east as a toll road. Constructing or improving interchanges at Illinois Route 53 (Rohlwing Road), I-290, Park Boulevard/Arlington Heights Road/Prospect Avenue, Wood Dale Road and Illinois Route 83.
- Provide direct access to O'Hare Airport property from York Road via a new ramp crossing over York Road and the Union Pacific Railroad and Canadian Pacific Railway.
- Enhance southern access to O'Hare via a new, four-lane Taft Avenue Connector between Illinois Route 19 and Franklin Avenue with a new crossing over the Bensenville Rail Yard.
- Constructing a new toll road connecting I-90 and I-294 west of O'Hare. Constructing interchanges at I-294, County Line Road/Franklin Avenue, Illinois Route 19, the Elgin O'Hare extension, Illinois Route 72 and I-90.
- Constructing a new, full-access interchange at I-90 and Elmhurst Road.
- Providing new access at I-294 and Illinois Route 64 via County Line Road.
- Accommodating express bus service in mixed traffic along the corridor. Bus service will be implemented by other agencies.
As part of its Move Illinois Program, the Illinois Tollway has committed $3.1 billion toward the $3.4 billion needed to begin building the EOWA Project in 2013.
Funding sources to close the $300 million gap are currently being pursued by DuPage County and local officials.
So far, DuPage County has committed to donate land along Thorndale Avenue that will count as a $25 million contribution toward the project. In addition, $69 million in funding is included in the proposed FY 2014-18 Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) Improvement Program.
Moving forward, DuPage County and local officials are working to identify additional sources of local funding, in-kind donations and other grant opportunities through the Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program (ITEP) .
The EOWA Project is expected to enhance economic development and travel performance in the region. The project will:
- Yield up to 65,000 direct and indirect jobs by 2040 when combined with completion of the western terminal at O'Hare Airport
- Provide new access to the west side of O'Hare Airport via York Road
- Save drivers $145 million in time and fuel annually by 2040
- Decrease traffic on local roads 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 carry now
- Reduce travel time by more than 7 minutes for the eleven-mile trip between the west side of O'Hare Airport and U.S. Route 20/Lake Avenue – a savings of 25 percent
- Relieve congestion near the existing I-290 and Thorndale Avenue interchange, where construction of new interchanges at Elgin O'Hare and I-290, Rohlwing Road, Park Boulevard, and Prospect Avenue will reduce travel times by up to 35 percent
The Tollway is committed to "Building Green" and minimizing the environmental impact of construction by reducing, recycling and reusing materials. In addition, the EOWA Project will feature the restoration, enhancement and protection of wetlands to increase the quality and quantity of the state's wetland resources. The Tollway will implement best management practices to address water quality and manage stormwater runoff during construction, operation and maintenance of the roadway. The project will also feature the construction of noise walls and pavement surface treatments to reduce traffic noise. Sustainable practices will be considered in all aspects of project implementation as outlined in Governor Quinn's Elgin O'Hare Advisory Council's final report.
Several green initiatives are already being applied on the project including:
- a watershed-based chloride offset program being implemented in coordination with the DuPage River Salt Creek Workgroup to ensure no net increase in chloride levels in local streams as a result of the project;
- application of the FHWA's INVEST self-evaluation tool that enables transportation agencies to evaluate the sustainability of their projects, as well as their planning, operations and maintenance processes; and
- a three year agreement with the University of Illinois to develop life cycle assessment tools to help the Tollway ensure that its capital program, Move Illinois, is the cleanest and greenest in the agency's history.
Construction of the EOWA Project will begin in 2013 with major early milestones consisting of:
- Existing Elgin O'Hare Expressway rehabilitated and widened
- New interchange configuration at Elgin O'Hare/I-290 and Elgin O'Hare/Illinois Route 53
- New access at I-90/Elmhurst Road
- Extension of existing Elgin-O'Hare Expressway to O'Hare Airport
- Western access into O'Hare Airport via York Road
Long-term activities for the project include:
- Construct toll road connecting I-90 and I-294 on the west side of O'Hare Airport
- New access to I-294/North Avenue
- New access from I-294 to Taft Avenue/Irving Park Road (Illinois Route 19)
As part of its capital planning process, the Illinois Tollway often seeks to acquire real estate needed for various public purposes, including the construction or expansion of the Tollway system. Land to be purchased by the Tollway is often referred to as right-of-way. The Tollway has adopted policies that provide fair and equitable procedures for the acquisition process.
On December 12, the Federal Highway Administration and Federal Aviation Administration issued a Record of Decision (ROD) approving the plan for the Elgin O'Hare Western Access (EOWA) Project. This approval completes the last step in the federal review of the project's environmental impact, allowing the Tollway to move toward implementation. The Record of Decision marks the end of more than five years of planning studies by the Illinois Department of Transportation. The $3.4 billion project is part of the Illinois Tollway's 15-year, $12 billion capital program, Move Illinois: The Illinois Tollway Driving the Future.
Approval of this document helps pave the way for construction of the EOWA Project to improve travel efficiency, create western access to O'Hare International Airport, provide new, multi-modal connections and reduce congestion. The 2013-2025 implementation plan is broadly supported by local governments and represents a fiscally responsible approach to address the area's diverse travel needs.
The Illinois Tollway has submitted applications to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) under Section 401 and 404 of the Clean Water Act, respectively, requesting authorization to proceed with the proposed Elgin O'Hare Western Access (EOWA) Project, located in Cook and DuPage Counties, Illinois. The specific applications are:
- Water Quality Certification under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act, and
- Joint Permit Application and pre-discharge notification requesting authorization under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act.
The Tollway is requesting single project-wide permits for both the Section 404 permit and the Section 401 Water Quality Certification. The respective permits would cover the entirety of the project limits based on the Build Alternative presented in the project's Tier Two Final Environmental Impact Statement (dated October 2012). The permit applications describe the maximum level of impact to wetland/waters of the U.S. and requirements for compensatory mitigation for the project will be based on the Build Alternative. The application materials are the outcome of many years of planning and coordinating with various federal, state, and local agencies/organizations to develop a project that fits within the context of the environment and appropriately provides mitigation for those resources for which there are unavoidable impacts. Together, the Tollway and the regulatory agencies have defined attainable solutions for all resource-related issues.
The application is available at public libraries in the vicinity of the project corridor including:
|Addison Public Library||Arlington Heights Memorial Library||Austin-Irving Chicago Public Library||Bartlett Public Library|
|Bensenville Community Library||Berkeley Public Library||Bloomingdale Public Library||Des Plaines Public Library|
|Elk Grove Village Public Library||Elmhurst Library||Franklin Park Public Library||Hanover Park Branch Library|
|Harold Washington Chicago Public Library||Hillside Public Library||Hoffman Estates Public Library||Itasca Community Library|
|Melrose Park Public Library||Mount Prospect Public Library||Northlake Public Library||Oriole Park Chicago Public Library|
|Park Ridge Library||Roden Chicago Public Library||Rolling Meadows Library||Roselle Public Library|
|Schaumburg Township Library||Schiller Park Public Library||Villa Park Public Library||Wood Dale Public Library|