Elgin O'Hare Western Access (EOWA)

Elgin O'Hare Western Access (EOWA) Project Overview


The Elgin O'Hare Western Access (EOWA) Project has the potential to change the face of Illinois' northwest suburbs, the Midwest region and beyond.

Due to the overall magnitude of the project and potential to dramatically improve mobility, freight connectivity and enhance the national and regional economies, the EOWA Project is is designated a "Project of National and Regional Significance" by federal transportation legislation.

The project includes 17 miles of new roads with 15 new or improved interchanges as part of a new, all-electronic toll road that includes rehabilitating and widening Illinois Route 390, formerly known as the Elgin O'Hare Expressway, and extending it east along Thorndale Avenue to O'Hare International Airport and building a new roadway around the western border of O'Hare linking the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90) and the Tri-State Tollway (I-294).

Broadly supported by local governments, the project is the result of bipartisan consensus reached by the Elgin O'Hare Advisory Council in 2011, which brought together local communities, business, labor, public finance and regional planning and transportation experts.

The project includes:

  • Improvements to the existing Illinois Route 390 between Lake Street (U.S. Route 20) and Meacham/Medinah Road with ramp improvements at Irving Park Road and Roselle Road and an improved interchange at Meacham/Medinah Road.
  • Extending Illinois Route 390 to O'Hare and constructing or improving interchanges at Rohlwing Road (Illinois Route 53), I-290, Park Boulevard, Arlington Heights Road/Prospect Avenue, Wood Dale Road and Illinois Route 83.
  • Providing direct access to O'Hare property from York Road via a new ramp crossing over York Road and the Union Pacific Railroad and Canadian Pacific Railway.
  • Enhancing southern access to O'Hare via a new, four-lane Taft Avenue Connector between Irving Park Road and Franklin Avenue with a new crossing over the Bensenville Rail Yard.
  • Constructing a new road connecting I-90 and I-294 west of O'Hare and interchanges at I-294, Green Street, Franklin Avenue, Irving Park Road, Illinois Route 390, Higgins Road (Illinois Route 72) and I-90.
  • Constructing a new, full-access interchange at I-90 and Elmhurst Road.
  • Constructing a new, partial interchange at I-294 and North Avenue (Illinois Route 64).

As part of its Move Illinois Program, the Illinois Tollway has committed $3.1 billion toward the $3.4 billion needed to begin building the EOWA Project in 2013. Funding sources to close the $300 million gap are currently being pursued by DuPage County and local officials.

To date, more than $141 million of the $300 million funding gap has been identified. DuPage County committed to a $25 million contribution of land along Thorndale Avenue. DuPage and Cook Counties have secured $95 million in Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) Improvement Program funding. Other in-kind donations will come from Cook County, the Village of Franklin Park and the City of Northlake.

Under the continued leadership of DuPage and Cook Counties, the project team anticipates that by 2025 it will be able to secure additional grant funding or in-kind contributions needed for design and construction.


The EOWA Project is expected to enhance economic development and travel performance in the region. The project will:

  • Create as many as to 65,000 direct and indirect jobs by 2040 when combined with completion of the western terminal at O'Hare International Airport.
  • Provide new access to the west side of O'Hare via York Road and south side of O'Hare via Taft Avenue.
  • Save drivers $145 million in time and fuel annually by 2040.
  • Decrease traffic on local roads by more than 16 percent during rush hour and reduce delays on local roads by 24 percent.
  • Accommodate three times as many vehicles per day as local roads carry now.
  • Reduce travel time by more than seven minutes for the 11-mile trip between the west side of O'Hare and Lake Street (U.S. Route 20) – a savings of 25 percent.

Building Green

The Tollway is committed to "Building Green" and minimizing the environmental impact of construction by reducing, recycling and reusing materials. In addition, the EOWA Project will feature the restoration, enhancement and protection of wetlands to increase the quality and quantity of the state's wetland resources. The Tollway will implement best management practices to address water quality and manage stormwater runoff during construction, operation and maintenance of the roadway. The project will also feature the construction of noisewalls and pavement surface treatments to reduce traffic noise. Sustainable practices will be considered in all aspects of project implementation as outlined in the Elgin O'Hare Advisory Council's final report.

Several green initiatives are already being applied on the project including:

  • A watershed-based chloride offset program being implemented in coordination with the DuPage River Salt Creek Workgroup to ensure no net increase in chloride levels in local streams as a result of the project;
  • Application of the FHWA's INVEST self-evaluation tool that enables transportation agencies to evaluate the sustainability of their projects, as well as their planning, operations and maintenance processes; and
  • A three-year agreement with the University of Illinois to develop life cycle assessment tools to help the Tollway ensure that its capital program, Move Illinois, is the cleanest and greenest in the agency's history.

Major Construction Activities

Construction of the EOWA Project began in 2013 and includes the major early milestones consisting of:


  • Completing Illinois Route 390 improvements from Lake Street (U.S. Route 20) to Rohlwing Road (Illinois Route 53)
  • Completing new Rohlwing Road Bridge
  • Completing new flyover ramp from westbound I-290 to westbound Illinois Route 390

2015 through 2017

  • Completing new interchange on Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90) at Elmhurst Road
  • Completing new interchange at Illinois Route 390/I-290
  • Constructing Illinois Route 390 from Rohlwing Road to Illinois Route 83

2016 through 2025

  • Constructing a new toll road connecting I-90 and Tri-State Tollway (I-294) on the west side of O'Hare
  • Constructing new roadways providing southern access into O'Hare International Airport via Taft Avenue

2017 through 2019

  • Constructing Illinois Route 390 from Illinois Route 83 east to O'Hare and south to Illinois Route 19
  • Constructing a new ramp providing western access into O'Hare via York Road
  • Constructing a new partial interchange on I-294 at North Avenue (Illinois Route 64)

2017 through 2020

  • Constructing Touhy Avenue improvements

Public Open House

The materials listed below detail information shared in the public open houses. Review these materials to learn more about the project and construction timeline.

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Land Acquisition

As part of its capital planning process, the Illinois Tollway often seeks to acquire real estate needed for various public purposes, including the construction or expansion of the Tollway system. Land to be purchased by the Tollway is often referred to as right-of-way. The Tollway has adopted policies that provide fair and equitable procedures for the acquisition process.

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Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) Record of Decision Information

On December 12, the Federal Highway Administration and Federal Aviation Administration issued a Record of Decision (ROD) approving the plan for the Elgin O'Hare Western Access (EOWA) Project. This approval completes the last step in the federal review of the project's environmental impact, allowing the Tollway to move toward implementation. The Record of Decision marks the end of more than five years of planning studies by the Illinois Department of Transportation. The $3.4 billion project is part of the Illinois Tollway's 15-year, $12 billion capital program, Move Illinois: The Illinois Tollway Driving the Future.

Approval of this document helps pave the way for construction of the EOWA Project to improve travel efficiency, create western access to O'Hare International Airport, provide new, multi-modal connections and reduce congestion. The 2013-2025 implementation plan is broadly supported by local governments and represents a fiscally responsible approach to address the area's diverse travel needs.

Section 401/404 Clean Water Act Permit Application

The Illinois Tollway has submitted applications to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) under Section 401 and 404 of the Clean Water Act, respectively, requesting authorization to proceed with the proposed Elgin O'Hare Western Access (EOWA) Project, located in Cook and DuPage Counties, Illinois. The specific applications are:

  • Water Quality Certification under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act, and
  • Joint Permit Application and pre-discharge notification requesting authorization under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act.

The Tollway is requesting single project-wide permits for both the Section 404 permit and the Section 401 Water Quality Certification. The respective permits would cover the entirety of the project limits based on the Build Alternative presented in the project's Tier Two Final Environmental Impact Statement (dated October 2012). The permit applications describe the maximum level of impact to wetland/waters of the U.S. and requirements for compensatory mitigation for the project will be based on the Build Alternative. The application materials are the outcome of many years of planning and coordinating with various federal, state, and local agencies/organizations to develop a project that fits within the context of the environment and appropriately provides mitigation for those resources for which there are unavoidable impacts. Together, the Tollway and the regulatory agencies have defined attainable solutions for all resource-related issues.

The application is available at public libraries in the vicinity of the project corridor including:

Public Libraries
Addison Public Library Arlington Heights Memorial Library Austin-Irving Chicago Public Library Bartlett Public Library
Bensenville Community Library Berkeley Public Library Bloomingdale Public Library Des Plaines Public Library
Elk Grove Village Public Library Elmhurst Library Franklin Park Public Library Hanover Park Branch Library
Harold Washington Chicago Public Library Hillside Public Library Hoffman Estates Public Library Itasca Community Library
Melrose Park Public Library Mount Prospect Public Library Northlake Public Library Oriole Park Chicago Public Library
Park Ridge Library Roden Chicago Public Library Rolling Meadows Library Roselle Public Library
Schaumburg Township Library Schiller Park Public Library Villa Park Public Library Wood Dale Public Library