- Published: Thursday, May 23, 2013 05:49 PM
Western access to O’Hare International Airport has long been viewed as key to reducing chronic suburban traffic congestion and renewing economic growth throughout the entire western suburbs.
The project took a major step forward Thursday when the Illinois Senate approved a resolution 50-0 sponsored by state Senator Tom Cullerton, a Villa Park Democrat, that officially gives the Illinois Tollway Authority the authority needed to begin.
This projects dates back to the early 1990s and has support from local municipalities and the DuPage County Board. Currently there isn’t an easy, direct route for people traveling to O’Hare from northwestern suburbs. This project will initiate the construction of a new tollway on the western edge of O’Hare Airport, connecting I-90 in the north to I-294 in the south. This project will also connect the Elgin-O’Hare expressway to O’Hare Airport by widening Thorndale Avenue and turning it into a tollway.
Cullerton said the tollway aspect was pivotal if the project is ever to become reality.
“If we waited for the state, western access would never happen and the Elgin O’Hare Expressway would forever continue to never go to either Elgin or O’Hare,” Cullerton said.
According to the Illinois Toll Highway Authority, this project, combined with the surrounding development and other infrastructure projects, stands to create as many as 65,000 direct and indirect jobs by 2040.
“With all the vacant small businesses in the western suburbs, this opens up warehouses for freight capacity, allows manufacturers to get their goods to market faster and will help these small business grow,” continued Cullerton.
Cullerton’s measure will allow construction to start on time in 2013 and will keep the project on budget. The approval of this resolution can save the project up to $100 million in construction costs, which would be incurred if construction begins in 2014. The tollway will use toll revenue to fund the majority of the project’s costs.
Drivers will not pay tolls on that road until the current work to widen existing portions of the roadway and erect sound barriers is complete, estimated to be by 2015.
For more information about the Elgin-O’Hare Western Access project, click here.