Beams rising over Tri-State Tollway (I-294) as work continues on interchange with new I-490 Tollway

Beams rising over Tri-State Tollway I-294 as work continues on interchange with new I-490 Tollway

Rows of shiny, steel beams rising over the central Tri-State Tollway (I-294) just south of O’Hare International Airport mark the latest phase of a massive Illinois Tollway project to build a new toll road that will provide western access for the airport.

The beams bridging the tollway as it passes through Franklin Park will carry a flyover ramp being built as part of the new I-490/I-294 Interchange that will connect the Tri-State Tollway (I-294) with the southern leg of the new I-490 Tollway.

The I-490 Tollway will provide a new connection between the Tri-State Tollway (I-294), the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90) and the Illinois Route 390 Tollway, while also providing tor the first time western access in and out of O’Hare Airport. I-490 and the Illinois Route 390 Tollway are the major elements of a $4.3 billion Tollway project to improve travel in the western suburbs and provide a new access into and out of the airport.

The beams being erected over I-294 in May will carry a new flyover ramp connecting northbound I-294 to northbound I-490. Two towering cranes are on site to lift the beams—some measuring 165 feet long and weighing 30 tons—into place atop concrete piers supporting the ramp.

That work, which for safety reasons requires briefly stopping traffic in both directions on I-294, is being done overnight to minimize travel disruptions for Tollway customers.

After all 102 beams are bolted into place, crews will continue to build the ramp by pouring the concrete bridge decks and parapet walls. 

Work on the nearby ramp connecting southbound I-490 to southbound I-294 largely has been completed. The interchange tentatively is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2026.

From the I-490/I-294 Interchange, the new I-490 Tollway will curl north through portions of the rail yard as it curves around the western edge of O’Hare Airport until it connects in Bensenville with the Illinois Route 390 Tollway. The road then will continue north until it connects with I-90 in Des Plaines.

I-490 is the first new road the Tollway has constructed since it opened the Illinois Route 390 Tollway in 2017.