Central Tri-State Tollway (I-294) - Building for Tomorrow

A Regional Solution

A detailed planning and refinement process is underway to complete a design concept for rebuilding the Central Tri-State Tollway (I-294). This process includes outreach efforts with customers, communities, businesses and partners to identify regional improvements and continue to refine the design details. As the Tollway moves forward with this planning process, updates on important issue areas and key project elements will continue to be posted to this page.

Where We've Been

Unique features and need for further improvements

How We Started

Process in evaluating and studying the Central Tri-State

Where We Are Going

Recommended options from the proposed concept phase

Project Elements

The proposed concept maximizes the value of investments into the Central Tri-State corridor for Tollway customers and the region. Project elements include:

  • Address local noise, aesthetic and quality-of-life concerns
  • Integrate Flex Lanes to better accommodate transit
  • Implement SmartRoad technology
  • New truck parking and freight access
  • Regional stormwater improvements

 

Proposed Project Timeline

THE CENTRAL TRI-STATE CONCEPT

The Central Tri-State Concept is one of the early phases of the project’s development. This concept includes findings and draft recommendations being considered and evaluated by the Tollway as it moves forward in the reconstruction of the Central Tri-State.

Central Tri-State Concept Map

> View the Central Tri-State Concept

Email Your Comments & Questions

Key Project Policy Areas

NOISE - Timing: During Design process

Status: In accordance with the Tollway’s Noise Study and Abatement Policy, the Tollway is conducting a noise analysis to help assist the Tollway in identifying areas for additional noise solutions. The policy outlines specific measurements and considerations that all factor into proposed noise abatement measures.

 

 

STORMWATER - Timing: During Design process

Status: The Tollway's leadership is committed to fostering environmental responsibility and sustainability in everything the agency does. As part of the planning process for reconstruction of the Central Tri-State, the Tollway is working with local communities and partners to address stormwater issues, improve regional flooding and identify mutually beneficial solutions.

RIGHT OF WAY PROCESS - Timing During Design process

Status: Throughout the planning process, the Tollway is working with the communities along the corridor to understand and identify local concerns and regulations, which help determine right-of-way needs. Once the needs are identified, the Tollway begins a land acquisition process following the Tollway’s Land Acquisition Policy to ensure property owners are treated fairly and equitably.

 

ACCESS - Timing: During Design and Construction process

Status: The Tollway is working to enhance travel reliability at existing interchanges, as well as improve access to communities along the corridor in accordance with the Tollway’s Interchange and Roadway Cost Sharing Policy. An original and destination survey taken from customers and local communities helps assist in identifying travel patterns and potential new access locations.

Central Tri-State Corridor

  • 22 miles: Balmoral Avenue to 95th Street
  • Carries heaviest volume of passenger and freight traffic on the Tollway
  • 2x congestion delays compared to the rest of the system
  • Costs drivers $330 million annually in time and fuel
  • Connects two international airports
  • Integral role in the region’s economy

Open House Meetings

The Illinois Tollway hosted three open house meetings in April 2018 as part of ongoing plans to improve the Central Tri-State Tollway (I-294). 

The open house meetings provided an opportunity for the Tollway to share information on the proposed concept and gather input from customers, residents, businesses and communities. 

The Illinois Tollway values public input and believes that Tollway customers are best served when a variety of perspectives on the issues are shared.

 

Need for Expanded Plan

The Tri-State Tollway was originally constructed in 1958. While the northern and southern portions of the Tri-State Tollway have already been reconstructed and improved, the Central Tri-State has continued to make due with repairs multiple times over the years in a patchwork fashion, leaving original pavement and bridge structures in need of critical repairs.

  • Continuing frequent patching is costly and highly disruptive to traffic creating additional congestion and unreliable travel times
  • Congestion relief is needed to accommodate current and projected traffic growth and increase travel time reliability
  • Redesigning the I-290 Interchange can help reduce interstate and local road delays
  • Flex Lanes can help accommodate future needs and transit options
  • Working together with communities and local agencies, the Tollway can help address stormwater/flooding issues, access, safety, noise, freight and economic opportunities

 

The Tollway Board Responds

On April 27, 2017, the Tollway Board of Directors directed staff to expand the Move Illinois capital program by $2.1 billion and advance a proposed $4 billion recommended concept to improve the Central Tri-State.

The original Move Illinois Program included $1.9 billion to replace the old pavement and bring the roadway, bridges and ramps into good repair. After further review of the corridor and discussions with local communities and external stakeholders, the Tollway determined that the Central Tri-State is too vital to the Tollway system and the Chicago region to reconstruct without making improvements to address traffic congestion, access, flooding and freight concerns. Reconstructing the roadway without making any additional improvements would leave the segment incapable of accommodating current and future travel needs.

To address recurring congestion and projected future traffic increases, an alternative concept was recommended to the Tollway Board of Directors that would add lanes along the corridor where vehicle use justified additional capacity. The recommended concept will address regional transportation needs and provide additional benefits to Tollway customers and the communities along the corridor without requiring a toll rate increase.

 

Where the Conversation Started

Corridor Planning Council

As the Tollway embarks upon this major reconstruction project for the Central Tri-State, the Tollway established the Central Tri-State Tollway (I-294) Corridor Planning Council to help develop a common understanding of the issues and concerns that should be considered as the Illinois Tollway prioritizes its investments. This Council is made up of local elected officials, communities, regional agencies and other key stakeholders.

In addition to the Corridor Planning Council, the Tollway will continue to engage the public in a variety of activities to provide information and answer questions throughout the planning process. Activities may include but are not limited to open houses, public meetings, customer surveys, community briefings and direct engagement with residents and businesses throughout the corridor.