Transportation in Northern Illinois impacts people in so many ways, including quality of life, cleanliness of air and water supplies and the character of local neighborhoods. The Illinois Tollway's leadership is committed to fostering environmental responsibility and sustainability in everything the agency does.
The Illinois Tollway strives to plan, design and construct roadway projects in accordance with state and federal regulations while using best practices to protect and enhance the natural and physical environment.
The Illinois Tollway is a dedicated environmental steward. Although the Tollway receives no state or federal funding, the agency adheres to the National Environmental Policy Act. The environmental team is responsible for coordination, communication and the acquisition of environmental permits for construction.
Landscape Master Plan
The Illinois Tollway’s Landscape Master Plan was developed with the goal of establishing and maintaining healthy tree communities throughout the Tollway’s 294-miles, 5 roadways and 12 counties.
In partnership with The Morton Arboretum, this Master Plan will guide Tollway efforts to:
- Install 58,000 trees with the intent of increasing regional tree canopy coverage
- Develop experimental approaches to planting that could test new ideas for tree installation and care in stressful roadway conditions
- Develop maintenance programs to better ensure the long-term viability of future planting efforts
- Evaluate and develop a diverse list of plant species and material suitable for high speed roadways
- Identify viable living snow fence locations
The Illinois Tollway seeks to minimize the environmental impact of roadway construction by reducing, recycling and reusing materials. The Illinois Tollway is committed to using renewable energy and green technology, as well as adopting research initiatives and best practices to reduce energy use and costs.
Natural Environment and Resource Protection
The Tollway seeks to adopt mitigation and landscaping projects with local and regional benefits, as well as best practices to improve nearby wetlands and waterways.
- Wetland mitigation – For every acre impacted, a minimum of 1.5 acres will be restored or created.
- Native vegetation – Use native and adaptive vegetation to reduce maintenance and mowing costs.
- Stormwater management – Continue and expand surface and groundwater monitoring research; use results to guide future work.
Waste Reduction and Recycling
Increase the use of recycled, reused and reclaimed materials. New programs will quantify resources preserved and materials recycled, as well as eliminate landfill waste.
- Waste-reduction work zone – Develop a pilot project to eliminate construction waste that is traditionally sent to landfills for disposal.
- 100 percent recycled materials – Recycled concrete, asphalt and other materials, including roof shingles and tires, will be used as base materials, backfill and in new pavements.
Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation
The Tollway seeks to incorporate renewable energy sources and conservation strategies proven to provide operational and maintenance benefits to conserve energy and reduce costs.
- Renewable energy – Install solar, wind and geothermal systems.
- Warm-mix asphalt – Maximize use in place of hot-mix asphalt on all program projects, reducing CO2 emissions and energy consumption by about 20 percent during asphalt production.
Investing in Technology
Incorporate new and innovative technologies to reduce maintenance and operating costs without sacrificing quality and efficiency.
- LEED-certified buildings – Develop construction plans for maintenance facilities and other buildings that meet standards for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and other green certification standards.
- Intelligent Transportation Systems – Installation and use of dynamic message signs, portable changeable message signs, cameras and other technologies to enhance safety and reduce delays; every minute of delay can result in four minutes of congestion.
The Illinois Tollway provides Annual Reports to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) as required by NPDES permit number ILR400494 for Stormwater Discharges from an MS4 (Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System). Typical best management practices (BMPs) utilized by Tollway projects to improve water quality include naturalized detention ponds, vegetated roadside ditches, and bioswales. As required by the permit, the Tollway evaluates the effectiveness of stormwater BMPs and has performed detailed analysis of the North Tri-State bioswales. Pollutant reductions resulting from the bioswale evaluation can be found in the Monitoring and Reporting section of the NPDES Annual Report.