The Illinois Tollway is committed to fostering environmental responsibility and sustainability in everything the agency does from planning and design through construction, maintenance and operations. Protecting natural resources and providing safe and effective transportation are in the public interest and addressing both of them is good public policy and practice.
Working together with communities and regulatory agencies, the Tollway strives to plan, design and construct roadway projects in accordance with local, state and federal regulations while using best practices to protect and enhance the natural and physical environment.
Although the Tollway receives no state or federal funding, the agency adheres to the National Environmental Policy Act.
Spotlight on LED Lighting
The Illinois Tollway is upgrading lighting systemwide to energy-efficient LED fixtures. By retrofitting existing light fixtures and designing and building new LED fixtures as part of the Move Illinois capital program, the Tollway’s LED lighting efforts are improving customer safety while reducing energy consumption and realizing cost savings.
LED lighting provides a more direct, uniform light to expand visibility for drivers and is a more efficient use of electricity. Each light fixture is estimated to save about 1000 kilowatt-hours annually.
By 2021 90 percent of the Illinois Tollway system lighting will be LED, including a large portion of the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90), all of the Illinois Route 390 Tollway and portions of the Tri-State Tollway (I-94/I-294/I-80), Veterans Memorial Tollway (I-355) and the Reagan Memorial Tollway (I-88). The Tollway plans to achieve 100 percent LED lighting by the end of 2026.
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 and the Chicago Region Trees Initiative, 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
As part of the Illinois Tollway’s efforts to offset the impacts of roadway construction on local and regional natural resources, environmental mitigation has taken place, and continues to take place, throughout the counties served by the Tollway. The goal of wetland mitigation is to restore and improve natural resources that are impacted during construction.
This has been accomplished through the re-establishment of historic wetlands and the enhancement of existing wetlands, as well as through stream restoration, the control of invasive plant species and native planting and seeding programs. Wetlands provide a variety of important ecosystem services, such as storing floodwaters, cleaning and recharging groundwater, sequestering carbon, trapping sediment, and filtering pollutants for clean water.
The Illinois Tollway seeks to minimize the environmental impact of roadway construction and maintenance by reducing, recycling and reusing materials such as asphalt shingles, tire rubber and reclaimed asphalt, and using materials and designs to build longer-lasting roads and bridges. The Illinois Tollway is committed to using green technology, as well as adopting research initiatives and best practices.
The Tollway applies green construction practices by:
- Reducing construction wasted and recycling materials
- Investing in technology
- Adopting FHWA's INVEST (Infrastructure Voluntary Evaluation Sustainability Tool)
The Illinois Tollway’s commitment to becoming a leader in sustainability includes using renewable energy and green technologies and adopting research initiatives and best practices to reduce energy use and costs. This includes building LEED-certified maintenance facilities, converting roadway lighting to LED lighting and researching use of invasives as energy sources.
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.