Illinois Tollway reaches agreement with railroads for new O’Hare I-490 tollway

i490 route
Source: Wikipedia

The Illinois Tollway Board of Directors has approved agreements with Soo Line Railroad Company (Canadian Pacific and Union Pacific Railroad) representing the next major step forward for the I-490 Tollway project.

The agreements which include land exchanges have an estimated value of $250 million. An Illinois Tollway news release didn’t outline the overall project cost or start date, but said the work is expected to be completed by 2025.

“Improving and updating infrastructure across the state has been a top priority for my administration from the very beginning and this new agreement provides a clear path forward for a long-awaited project,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said in a May 21 statement. “After years of false starts and unfulfilled plans, the I-490 Tollway Project can now achieve its goals of improving access to O’Hare International Airport for businesses and communities and providing needed employment opportunities for workers.”

The agreement will allow for the mutual exchange of property rights required to construct the new I-490 Tollway extending south from the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90) to the TriState Tollway (I-294) with interchanges creating new access into and around O’Hare International Airport and will enable improvements to rail operations in the Chicago Terminal area.

“Today we mark a significant breakthrough in the Illinois Tollway’s longstanding effort to deliver the Elgin O’Hare Western Access Project,” said Tollway chairman Will Evans. “Thanks to the leadership of this administration, as well as the dogged persistence of our federal, state and local stakeholders, our collective goal of delivering western access to O’Hare is that much closer.”

The new highway will cross the Union Pacific Railroad at several locations, including where western access into and out of O’Hare International Airport is planned, as well as near the Tri-State Tollway (I-294) at the location of the future I-490/I-294 Interchange.

The new I-490 Tollway is also planned to cross over the Canadian Pacific at several locations including where western access to the airport is planned and in the Canadian Pacific’s Bensenville Yard. The project will require relocating Canadian Pacific trackage south of the yard.

The agreements would also provide the tollway with property rights that will advance adjacent projects supporting construction of Cook County’s planned improvements to Touhy Avenue, which include replacement of the at-grade crossing at the Union Pacific Railroad with a new bridge that will relieve congestion and improve access to the north side of O’Hare International Airport.

Due to the overall magnitude and potential to dramatically improve mobility, freight connectivity and enhance the national and regional economies, the corridor was designated as a “Project of National and Regional Significance” by federal transportation legislation and the project has continued to advance with support from Illinois Congressional leaders, the statement says.


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