New I-294 I-57 Interchange steering more development jobs to Chicago Southland
The final segment of the new I-294/I-57 Interchange has yet to open but it’s already helped steer millions of square feet of new commercial development to the Chicago Southland communities around it, which in turn have generated thousands of new jobs in the region.
New warehouses, logistics centers and manufacturing firms—an estimated 15 million square feet of new commercial space--began popping up following the 2014 opening of the first phase of the interchange project and in anticipation of the planned September opening of the second phase, which will provide the final connections linking the Tri-State Tollway (I-294) with I-57.
Completing this project is another example of the success that comes with investing in infrastructure, which assists local communities and the region by improving mobility, linking economies and creating jobs—three pillars of the Illinois Tollway’s 15-year, $14-billion Move Illinois program.
And that’s just the beginning.
With the new, full interchange allowing easy access in all directions for passenger and commercial vehicles, economic development officials expect more businesses will build or relocate to facilities in the area, creating still more jobs in the Chicago Southland.
“There’s new development occurring all through the region because of the rail and road assets, which have been enhanced by construction of this interchange. We expect this trend will continue into the future because transportation assets are so important to businesses now,” said Reggie Greenwood, executive director of the Chicago Southland Economic Development Corporation, which works with businesses and local governments to foster economic growth.
For decades, I-294 and I-57 crossed each other in the Chicago Southland but did not connect, limiting access to some communities, stalling job creation and economic development by making it more difficult and time-consuming for commercial vehicles to use the regional road network to transport materials and products.
That changed in 2014 when the Illinois Tollway completed Phase 1 of the $719 million I-294/I-57 Project, opening a partial interchange that connected access from northbound I-57 to northbound I-294 and southbound I-294 to southbound I-57, including new ramps connecting I-294 to 147th Street.
Opening in September, the second phase of the project adds four new ramps to complete the interchange, connecting southbound I-57 to northbound I-294, southbound I-294 to northbound I-57 and northbound I-294 to northbound I-57. The new connections also include a half-mile-long flyover ramp bridge carrying traffic from southbound I-57 to southbound I-294 and from 147th Street to southbound I-57.
Following the completion of the first phase, logistics and transportation businesses began to look at building in the nearby communities—and the area has boomed in the last 3 to 4 years, Greenwood said, noting that Amazon alone in that time has opened four new facilities in Markham, Matteson, Monee and University Park that cover more than 12 million square feet of space.
“It’s already had job and economic impacts. Right now the area around I-294/I-57 is booming,” Greenwood said of the new interchange. “Amazon certainly took into account the interchange as they made their decisions to locate here.”
In Markham, one of the communities closest to the interchange, Amazon invested an estimated $500 million in building a 4-million-square-foot warehouse, creating about 3,000 new jobs.
More development is certain to occur in the area, with planned projects valued at more than $215 million expected this year and next year in Harvey and Country Club Hills. That development is projected to add nearly 3 million square feet of commercial space.
“There’s more development coming in multiple places,” Greenwood said, citing ongoing projects in Tinley Park, Monee and other areas near the interchange that are expected to add more than 2 million square feet of commercial space.
Large parcels of industrial land totaling more than 700 acres in the area are under contract for new developments, Greenwood noted, saying manufacturing companies are among the business building or relocating to the area, at least partly because of its improved transportation links.
“Manufacturing will be part of this,” Greenwood said. “Manufacturing companies are also logistics companies and in the new world of e-commerce and delivery, logistics are more important than they used to be. So this (interchange) project is providing more opportunity to re-engage with the world.”
Encouraging economic development and creating new jobs by building better access to the Tollway system is a key factor in planning construction that will be done by the Tollway
“This project, along with the other work we’re doing in this area, is the conduit to help this development occur,” said Illinois Tollway Planning Chief Rocco Zucchero. “We’re excited about finishing this project because we’re helping create jobs for people who live in this area.”