Inside the Tollway
In 2017, the Illinois Tollway expanded the Move Illinois capital program to include the widening of the Central Tri-State Tollway (I-294). At that time, the Tollway announced the project would require closing and removing the Hinsdale Oasis over-the-road pavilion and bridge structures to allow for the roadway reconstruction and widening.
This month, the Illinois Tollway expects the Hinsdale Oasis pavilion to close as part of that plan. The two adjoining fuel stations and convenience stores operated by 7-Eleven will remain open and continue to provide services for both northbound and southbound travelers along I-294.
The Illinois Tollway’s oases with over-the-road pavilions were first constructed in 1959 at Belvidere, Des Plaines, Hinsdale, O’Hare and Lake Forest by the Tollway and leased to Standard Oil Co. of Indiana. The Fred Harvey Co. operated full-service restaurants and gift shops in the over-the-road pavilions, and Standard Oil operated fuel stations adjacent to the oases. Additional oases were added, including an over-the-road pavilion at the Chicago Southland Lincoln Oasis and a roadside pavilion at the DeKalb Oasis.
In 2002, private partners, Wilton Partners and ExxonMobil, invested $100 million to renovate the Tollway’s seven oases, entering into a 25-year lease ending in 2027. These partnerships reinvigorated the aging pavilions and fuel stations, while serving customers on the increasingly accessible Tollway system, coming entirely at the expense of the investors.
In 2011, the Tollway embarked on the Move Illinois Program aimed at completing the reconstruction and expansion of the Tollway system. As a part of these plans, the Des Plaines Oasis on the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90) was closed and removed to accommodate reconstruction and widening of I-90 completed in 2017 and construction of a new interchange to serve the new I-490 Tollway scheduled to be complete by the end of 2026.
Also as part of the program, the O’Hare Oasis pavilion was closed to the public in September 2018. At that time, the Tollway terminated the lease at the O’Hare Oasis for a determined value of $8.7 million along with an additional $500,000 that SFI, the current leaseholder, already had paid into an account to use to provide long-term maintenance at the oasis.
In July 2021, the Tollway Board of Directors took action to authorize the negotiations required to terminate the lease with SFI for the Hinsdale Oasis pavilion which is required in order to remove the over-the-road building and bridge structure. The removal contract was advertised in August and is expected to be awarded in November.
The $4 billion Central Tri-State Tollway (I-294) Project is reconstructing and widening the roadway between Balmoral Avenue and 95th Street to provide congestion relief, update old infrastructure to meet current and future transportation demand and address regional needs. More than 220,000 vehicles use the Central Tri-State Tollway daily.