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updated: 10/12/2011 6:52 PM

Express bus service OKd on I-90

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After wishing upon the expensive STAR line in vain, suburban and transit officials will get a less pricey alternative -- bus rapid transit along the Jane Addams Tollway (I-90).

Pace will receive about $38 million in federal air-quality grants to pay for a system of express buses along I-90, following a vote Wednesday by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning board.

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Pace will use the funds to buy buses and land for park-and-ride facilities, plus engineering and construction. Early plans call for park-and-ride stops along I-90 at Barrington Road, Route 59, Route 25 and Randall Road.

For years, Northwest suburban leaders had hoped to create a suburb-to-suburb commuter rail service, the STAR line, operated by Metra along the I-90 corridor and on the former EJ&E Railway tracks. But the costs for such a system are prohibitive.

New proposed express bus routes include: Palatine to Schaumburg, Elgin to the Rosemont River Road CTA stop, Elgin to Schaumburg, Addison to Schaumburg, and the Rosemont River Road CTA stop to Prairie Stone in Hoffman Estates. CMAP officials Wednesday approved $411 million grants for 115 projects, all aimed at reducing congestion and air pollution. Other projects include:

• More than $5 million for Metra to retrofit train engines to emit less soot;

• About $17 million to improve the bottleneck at Washington Street and the Metra tracks in Grayslake by creating a grade separation;

• More than $12 million for intersection improvements along Lake Cook Road at Route 83, Weiland Road and Buffalo Grove Road in northern Cook County;

• About $6.3 million for intersection improvements at Fabyan Parkway/Washington Street and Roosevelt Road in West Chicago;

• More than $3 million for a pedestrian crossing on Randall Road from Golden Eagle Drive to Stonegate Road in Algonquin.

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