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Planning Group To Study Jane Addams Tollway Revamp

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Cars and trucks on highway (Credit: Charles Rex Arbogast/AP)

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(WBBM) – The Jane Addams (I-90) Tollway is wearing out. 

The Illinois Toll Highway Authority wants a game plan to rebuild it quickly, and Thursday set up a planning council to sort through competing ideas and decide on a plan.

There is no lack of proposals, Newsradio 780’s Bob Roberts reports.

Some have proposed additional lanes.  Some say the new lanes should be reserved for buses and car pools. Some recommend higher tolls when congestion peaks. Mass transit proposals include dedicated express bus lanes, CTA rapid transit, Metra service and even high-speed rail all the way to Rockford.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Bob Roberts Reports

“The first goal is to come together and release a report or come up with some recommendations by fall of this year,” Toll Authority Executive Director Kristi LaFleur said Thursday.  “We want to move forward with our portion of that reconstruction sooner rather than later.”

LaFleur said that 17 agencies will have seats on the council, including the Illinois Department of Transportation and the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA).  Also expected to be represented on the planning council are Illinois State Chamber of Commerce, environmental groups, the five county boards along the corridor, the Northwest Council of Mayors and four legislators, representing both caucuses in the Illinois House and Senate. 

An estimated 300,000 vehicles use the Jane Addams on the average weekday — more than four times the number of vehicles that used it in 1970. 

IDOT statistics show that if you add in the Kennedy Expressway and the CTA Blue Line, and you have more than 1 million travelers in the I-90 corridor each weekday.

The council is charged with finding ways to reduce the chronic congestion on the Addams and increase environmentally sound transportation options.   

 Buses currently use the Addams from Rosemont as far northwest as Illinois 59, in the Hoffman Estates area.

The Addams opened to traffic in 1958 and has been resurfaced several times over the years, but LaFleur said highway engineers believe the next rebuilding must be complete.  She said that commencing the work by 2015 could save the Toll Authority $200 million. Starting next year could save $400 million, a sizable chunk of estimated reconstruction costs that could run anywhere from $1.9 billion to $4.5 billion, depending on the managed lane and mass transit options selected.

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