DOWNERS GROVE, Ill. — The Illinois Tollway will open the remaining ramps at the Tri-State Tollway (Interstate 294)/Interstate 57 Interchange two years ahead of schedule.
The $719 million project, built in partnership with the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), “delivers a new gateway for commerce and economic development in the Chicago Southland region,” according to a news release.
Overnight Saturday, Sept. 10, into Sunday, Sept. 11, Tollway crews will open traffic access to four new ramps connecting southbound I-57 to I-294 and I-294 to northbound I-57.
“Illinois is consistently ranked as one of the best states in the nation for infrastructure, and projects like this demonstrate why,” said Gov. JB Pritzker. “These historic investments in our interstates and the effective partnerships that have emerged from them have opened a pathway to economic growth that will benefit the entire region. We’re telling businesses and new development that Illinois is a state where you’ll be given the infrastructure needed for success.”
The first phase of the interchange opened in 2014 with access from northbound I-57 to northbound I-294 and southbound I-294 to southbound I-57, including new ramps at 147th Street.
“Completion of this vital interchange will help local communities – particularly Harvey, Markham, Dixmoor and Posen — attract new development and support existing businesses to move the goods and services they produce and purchase,” said Illinois Tollway Executive Director Cassaundra Rouse. “Recognizing the impact infrastructure improvements have on our regional economy, the Illinois Tollway felt it was critical to advance completion of these new ramps from 2024 to 2022.”
The completed I-294/I-57 Interchange ramps are anticipated to accommodate 76,000 vehicles per day, provide direct freight access to Chicago’s south suburbs and save drivers $4 million annually in fuel consumption. Tri-State Tollway drivers who have been using I-80 to get to I-57 will save 25 travel hours per year using the new interchange.
The Tollway and IDOT collectively budgeted $339 million to complete Phase Two of the interchange, which was advanced from its original schedule for construction in 2023-2024. The agencies budgeted $380 million to complete Phase One of the project completed in 2014. Remaining work on I-57 and in the project area is expected to be completed in 2023.
“This interchange not only will help improve mobility throughout the state, but it will forever provide an example of the transformational work we can accomplish by partnering and collaborating,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Omer Osman. “Under Gov. Pritzker, IDOT is working with transportation stakeholders and communities up and down Illinois on important projects just like this one to enhance local quality life, improve safety and create economic opportunity.”
Dixmoor, Harvey, Markham, Midlothian and Posen to develop a I-294/I-57 Land Use and Economic Development Plan
The study area encompassed a portion of the communities near the I-294/I-57 Interchange and identified key land use opportunities at interchanges and along major arterial corridors that will spur economic development both regionally and locally.
With the new, full interchange completed, economic development officials expect more businesses will build or relocate to facilities in the area, creating still more jobs in the Chicago Southland.
“There’s new development occurring all through the region because of the rail and road assets, which have been enhanced by construction of this interchange,” said Reggie Greenwood, executive director of the Chicago Southland Economic Development Corp. “We expect this trend will continue into the future because transportation assets are so important to businesses now.”
The I-294/I-57 Interchange was constructed in two phases. The first phase, completed in 2014, provided first-time access to and from Champaign, serving 75% of the travel demand. The second phase of construction was advanced to 2019-2023 to deliver the remaining ramps carrying traffic to and from Chicago and complete improvements on I-57.
The I-294/I-57 Interchange Project created or sustained more than 6,800 total jobs. More than 200 companies, including contractors and consultants, worked on Tollway contracts for the project. In total, construction of the full interchange required nearly 157,000 cubic yards of concrete, 80,000 tons of aggregate, 32,000 tons of asphalt, about 16,000 tons of steel and more than 80,000 linear feet of steel bridge beams.
The I-294/I-57 Interchange includes ramp toll plazas that provide for cashless tolling with I-PASS or E-ZPass, or customers have a 14-day grace period to pay online, before the Illinois Tollway issues invoices with additional fees.
New ramps with toll plazas include the ramp connecting southbound I-57 to northbound I-294 and the ramp connecting southbound I-294 to northbound I-57. Existing tolled ramps at the interchange include the ramp connecting northbound I-57 to northbound I-294 and southbound I-294 to southbound I-57, as well as 147th Street to northbound I-294 and southbound I-294 to 147th Street.
The regular toll rate is $1.50 for customers who pay their unpaid tolls online within 14 days and a discounted rate of 75 cents offered to I-PASS or E-ZPass customers. Truck and trailer rates range from $1.50 to $4 during daytime hours, with overnight discounts offered.
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