Illinois Tollway Looks Ahead to 2019
Seeks to build upon past accomplishments in eighth year of Move Illinois Program
DOWNERS GROVE, IL – The Illinois Tollway introduced advancements, improvements and innovative new programs in 2018 that promise to deliver exceptional value to Tollway customers in 2019 and for years to come.
Building upon these accomplishments, the Tollway is well-positioned to expand its economic impact on the region, redefine travel for its 1.6 million daily drivers, enhance safety and reliability, improve sustainability and create new opportunities for diverse businesses and underemployed individuals.
“We made significant progress in 2018 on projects and initiatives that our customers and the communities of Northern Illinois care about,” said Illinois Tollway Executive Director Liz Gorman. “We are moving ahead in 2019 with $1.4 billion in investments in infrastructure improvements for the eighth year of our 15-year, $14 billion Move Illinois capital program. These investments are putting more people to work and delivering improvements to increase safety and reliability for our customers.”
Advancing Western Access
When complete, the I-490 Tollway and western access to O’Hare will have an enormous economic impact, promoting the area’s global competitiveness and creating 65,000 new sustainable jobs for working families. In 2018, the Tollway took significant steps toward making this project a reality by signing a letter of intent with Canadian Pacific Railway, creating a framework for a final agreement and reaching a memorandum of understanding with Union Pacific Railroad, helping to resolve issues related to western access and the I-490 Tollway connection to the Tri-State Tollway (I-294).
Building Our Workforce
With the launch of ConstructionWorks, powered by the Illinois Tollway, minorities, women and veterans interested in pursuing careers in heavy highway and related construction industries can now receive free pre-apprenticeship training and support at 18 ConstructionWorks sites in Cook and DuPage counties, Chicago, Rockford, Aurora and Waukegan. With upwards of $20 billion in Chicagoland infrastructure improvements over the next decade, coupled with an aging skilled labor force, this program is designed to ensure a qualified pipeline of diverse men and women in the skilled trades.
The Illinois Tollway Board of Directors also conducted a robust series of public meetings seeking input from industry experts aimed at improving Tollway operations including issues of Qualifications-Based Selection process, the agency’s hiring process and conflict-of-interest policies. After extensive evaluation, the Board moved to implement changes designed to improve transparency, accountability to customers and strengthen the way the agency conducts business.
Helping Emerging Companies
The Tollway’s Partnering for Growth Program opened a new avenue for emerging construction firms, including minority-, women- and veteran-owned businesses, to grow and successfully compete for Tollway work. Long available to professional engineering services firms, the Partnering for Growth Program was expanded to include mentorship agreements between construction firms, allowing small and diverse firms to gain experience and valuable assistance from more experienced mentor firms. So far, of the approximately 150 mentoring agreements, four have been executed between established contractors and emerging or diverse firms.
Partnering with Transit
Under a unique partnership with Pace Suburban Bus, the Tollway integrated transit into an interchange along an interstate highway for the first time. The Barrington Road Interchange on the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90) in the Village of Hoffman Estates features the first in-line express bus accommodations in Illinois. The new full-access interchange provides commuters and residents more efficient, economical public transportation options and improves access for businesses in Hoffman Estates and to nearby St. Alexius Medical Center.
Enhancing Customer Service
As part of ongoing efforts to operate more efficiently and enhance customer options, the Tollway replaced outdated coin baskets with machines that offer cash-paying customers the convenience to use coins, cash or credit and debit cards similar to self-service payment machines at parking garages. This will improve travel for infrequent visitors and cash-paying customers with this introduction of “Self-Service” lanes on ramp toll plazas.
Protecting the Environment
The Tollway demonstrated its support for a healthier urban forest throughout Northern Illinois and its commitment to the environment by entering a partnership with The Morton Arboretum to better understand which trees are best suited to thrive along roadsides and to develop best practices for future tree plantings. These efforts not only allow Tollway customers the opportunity to appreciate the beauty of trees, but trees along the Tollway system make streets quieter in local communities, reduce flooding and provide a healthier environment by cleaning the air and cooling the surrounding area.
Creating a Regional Solution
As the largest project in Tollway history, the Central Tri-State (I-294) Reconstruction Project will advance the $4 billion investment in this critical 22-mile stretch of infrastructure with the goal of adding capacity and improving access to connect more people with businesses and residents.
As an economic engine for the region, the Tollway will advance multiple new interchange projects to improve local access. The Tollway is supporting the Village of Justice, Cook County and IDOT to advance planning and construction for a new interchange at 88th Avenue/Cork Avenue and with Cook and DuPage counties, as well as the cities of Elmhurst and Northlake, to reconfigure the North Avenue Interchange.
As part of the I-294 Reconstruction Project, the Tollway is working in partnership with local communities and environmental agencies including the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago and DuPage County Stormwater Management to address existing drainage, stormwater detention and water quality issues.
The Tollway is elevating efforts to bring greater awareness to roadway safety laws, building upon its Give Them Distance campaign to educate drivers about the importance of Scott’s Law and working with legislators in Springfield to push for new, stricter penalties and a $1,000 fine for drivers who intentionally cut through work zones and endanger the safety of workers. The Tollway is also working in partnership with the Illinois High School & College Driver Education Association to highlight the Give Them Distance campaign, as well as public safety and traffic laws, in Illinois driver’s education classrooms with the goal of making our roads safer.
Planning for the Future
The Illinois Tollway will continue to develop and implement a comprehensive strategic plan – a roadmap to maximize the beneficial impact on transportation mobility in Northern Illinois and to identify community and customer needs. The Tollway will continue to collaborate with stakeholders and local governments to develop an agency vision, mission, values and goals that can provide the greatest value to Tollway customers, communities and the regional transportation network.
“The Illinois Tollway is looking forward to accomplishing great things in 2019,” said Gorman. “We have already delivered significant improvements in the first half of our Move Illinois Program and we are eager to continue providing benefits for our customers and the communities we serve next year and beyond.”