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.
Fox River Country Day School Forested Fen
The Illinois Tollway contributed $2.6 million to the purchase and protection of a 53-acre nature preserve site in Elgin located at Illinois Route 25 just north of the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90).
In 2013, the site, formerly housing the Fox River Country Day School, was acquired by the City of Elgin in partnership with the neighboring Max McGraw Wildlife Foundation, a more than 50-year-old conservation and research foundation.
The 23-acre forested fen portion was donated to the Kane County Forest Preserve District.
Hadley Valley Preserve
In 2007, the Illinois Tollway helped fund the restoration and preservation of more than 180 acres of wetlands, prairies and savannas, as well as the development of three public access sites and nearly 5 miles of multi-use trails along Spring Creek in the Hadley Valley Preserve in Joliet.
Indian Boundary Prairies
The Illinois Tollway contributed nearly $1 million to help fund the preservation, restoration and enhancement of approximately 45 acres of wetland and high quality grassland areas within the Indian Boundary Prairies through an intergovernmental agreement with Northeastern Illinois University and The Nature Conservancy.
The group of sites are located in the southwest suburb of Markham in close proximity to the Tri-State Tollway
(I-294)/I-57 Interchange Project.
Work began in 2012 and was completed in 2017.
North Chicago Wetland Mitigation Project
The Illinois Tollway conducted wetland restoration on a 160-acre site owned by the State of Illinois in North Chicago for the purpose of mitigating environmental impacts associated with improvements to the northern portion of the Tri-State Tollway.
The site is located just south of Buckley Road (Illinois Route 137) between Illinois Route 41 and Illinois Route 43 and east of the Tri-State Tollway (I-94). The location was selected due to the presence of state-protected species as well as remnant portions of high-quality wetlands in need of restoration.
Orland Grasslands South
The Illinois Tollway completed a $7.1 million wetland restoration project on the 162-acre Orland Grassland South in 2018. The four-year project converted the site, which is located between 179th Street and 183rd Street at 104th Avenue in Orland Park, from farmland back into wetlands.
Vegetative and hydrological maintenance and monitoring is ongoing through February 2020.
Pine Dunes Wetland Mitigation
After six years of prairie restoration and vegetation surveys, the Illinois Tollway received sign-off from the Army Corps of Engineers on the 315-acre wetland mitigation site at Pine Dunes Forest Preserve located near Wadsworth in northern Lake County.
The Tollway successfully restored 80 acres of wetlands and 235 acres of adjacent prairie, savanna and woodland habitat. Work began on the agricultural parcel in 2014, opened to the public in 2018 and federal sign-off was granted in summer 2020.
Now that the site has become an established ecosystem, it has been turned over to the hands of the Lake County Forest Preserve District.
Spring Brook Creek and Wetland Restoration Project
TThe Illinois Tollway partnered with the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County to improve a half-mile section of the Spring Brook No. 1 Creek that runs through the St. James Farm Forest Preserve, reconfiguring the creek to replicate a more natural, meandering stream, including shoreline improvements and habitat creation.
Construction started in 2014, was completed in 2015 and then monitored and maintained for five years.
The Illinois Tollway is continuing its work to help restore the Spring Brook No. 1 Creek that runs through the St. James Farm Forest Preserve. Phase 2 of the project will improve habitat and water quality along an approximately two-mile section of creek, creating better conditions for wildlife and providing visitors with impressive views of the surrounding prairies, wetlands and woodlands.
The first phase of the project helped restore more than a half-mile section of the creek and was completed in 2015.
Restoration work started in the spring of 2019 and scheduled to be complete in 2021.