It's been often said the City of Chicago has two seasons - Winter, and Road Construction.
Well, a few years down the line, a major road widening project on a portion of I-290, our Eisenhower Expressway, which links the West Suburbs of Chicago with Downtown Chicago and The Loop, will add to commuter frustration short-term, but, hopefully, alleviate congestion over the long haul.
As reported in the Chicago Tribune by Jon Hilkevitch, Getting Around Reporter, preliminary engineering work to expand to four lanes the Eisenhower between Mannheim Road on the West, and Austin Boulevard on the East, has begun. The seven-mile-stretch of the proposed eastbound work zone extends from the Chicago Suburb of Hillside IL, through Bellwood, Westchester, Maywood, Broadview, Forest Park, Oak Park, ending the the Western City Limits of Chicago.
Eight years ago, a traffic bottleneck for many years known as "The Hillside Strangler" at the western end of the Eisenhower Expressway was modernized, removed, and widened.
However, removing The Strangler didn't alleviate the mass traffic congestion each weekday afternoon. It simply moved the congestion further east, near 25th Avenue, where the road once again narrowed eastbound to three lanes from four. (The outbound side of the expressway already has four lanes to Mannheim Road. In spite of this, however, it, too, is very often congested!)
Early estimates for the work - $1 Billion. Although no money is currently earmarked for the project, the Illinois Congressional Delegation is making obtaining funding to widen the road a top priority.
Their are perhaps less costly alternatives to widening the road, but none of these will likely be popular with harried commuters.
One involves designating a car pool lane, for vehicles with the driver and at least one passenger, during rush hour periods. (Here in Chicago, "rush hour" extends pretty much all day!) Another envisions a toll lane with restricted traffic for the high-volume stretch.
Our Eisenhower Expressway wasn't always this busy. When the expressway, then known as the Congress Expressway, for the stretch of Congress Avenue which it parallels, was built in the middle 1950's, about 100,000 cars traveled its length. Today, the commuter figure has doubled, to 200,000, resulting in more than 14 hours of congested travel on the stretch of road each day, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation.
IDOT, in a recent study, showed that more than 800,000 commuters now travel the area between the Western City Limits of Chicago and neighboring DuPage County - roughly 22% of the total commuter trips each day in Chicago.
Indeed - something needs to be done!
Please read our post today via BlogChicagoHomes.com.
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