Inside the Tollway
The Illinois Tollway marked a milestone in April for the multi-year project to complete the interchange finally connecting the Tri-State Tollway (I-294) and I-57.
The last construction contract for the $719 million project was awarded to Dunnett Bay Construction Company for $20.8 million for roadway and bridge construction on I-57 over the CSX and Baltimore and Ohio Chicago Terminal Railroads. This final piece of the massive interchange project puts the agency on track to deliver full access by 2022.
“This project is a significant accomplishment that, thanks to the hard work of our dedicated staff, will be delivered years ahead of time, accelerating our investments in Chicago’s Southland and completing the long-sought interchange between these two interstates,” said Illinois Tollway Executive Director José Alvarez.
Initially, Phase Two completing the I-294/I-57 Interchange Project was scheduled for 2024-2026. Under the accelerated schedule to complete the I-294/I-57 Interchange by the end for 2022, four new ramps will be built connecting southbound I-57 to I-294 and I-294 to northbound I-57 along with additional roadway improvements.
Working in partnership with the Illinois Department of Transportation, the Tollway completed Phase One of the project in 2014 and opened the highly anticipated I-294/I-57 Interchange – creating a vital connection between two major interstates in the Chicago Southland.
For the first time, the new I-294/I-57 Interchange provided motorists with access between I-294 and I-57 and at 147th Street. It created access from northbound I-57 to northbound I-294 and southbound I-294 to southbound I-57, including a new interchange at 147th Street.
“Our staff works tirelessly to ensure the investments we are making into our regional infrastructure are meaningful and are in the best interests of our customers and the communities we serve,” said Alvarez. “The interchange is going to save our region’s businesses and commuters precious time, energy and resources, and open new and much needed opportunities for jobs and prosperity for the surrounding communities.”
The Tri-State Tollway (I-294)/I-57 Interchange is improving travel by providing customers with completed access between the two interstates. The enhanced interchange will reduce congestion on local routes, enhance economic development and improve regional mobility. The all-electronic interstate-to-interstate connection better serves commuters and freight operators while opening access for local communities.
When complete, the I-294/I-57 Interchange is expected to serve more than 76,000 vehicles per day and provide direct freight access to Chicago’s south suburbs – saving drivers $4 million annually in fuel. Tri-State Tollway drivers currently using I-80 to get to I-57 will save 25 travel hours per year using the new interchange.
In addition to beginning the final construction contract on I-57, the Tollway’s work in 2021 also includes widening of the I-57 bridge over Dixie Highway and the 147th Street Bridge is being completely reconstructed and widened with new collector-distributor road bridges that carry traffic to and from the I-294/I-57 Interchange.
In addition, ongoing work includes construction of the ramp connecting northbound I-294 to northbound I-57 and the two ramps carrying southbound I-57 to I-294. This includes a flyover ramp bridge will carry traffic from southbound I-57 to southbound I-294 and from 147th to southbound I-57. The multi-span structure will be nearly 2,650 feet long with a bridge deck approximately 16 feet above I-294 and 17 feet above I-57.
Estimated at $719 million, the I-294/I-57 Interchange Project is funded by the Illinois Department of Transportation and the Illinois Tollway’s 15-year, $14 billion Move Illinois capital program.