Jet-lagged travelers trying to hurry home from O'Hare and other suburban commuters will get a wake-up call this construction season, courtesy of the Illinois tollway.
The agency has closed two major bridge ramps at the interchange of the Tri-State (I-294) and Jane Addams (I-90) tollways to replace aging concrete beams and pavement.
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The work will last for four months and cost $13 million. The ramp from the eastbound I-190 to the westbound Jane Addams and the ramp from the northbound Tri-State to the westbound Jane Addams will be off limits through mid-July.
A detour using Touhy Avenue and River Road will mean drivers pass through both the Touhy Toll Plaza on I-294 and Devon Avenue Toll Plaza on I-90. But I-PASS users won't be doubled-charged, officials said. I-PASS holders should make a point of driving through the I-PASS-only lanes at both toll plazas. Just the 75 cent toll at Devon will be counted on I-PASS accounts.
Tollway officials said they conducted tests on the system prior to closing the bridges to ensure motorists don't take a hit twice.
"We've been watching and monitoring it," Executive Director Kristi Lafleur said. "So far, we think it all seems to be working."
Tollway users paying in cash should stay in the detour lane at the Touhy Toll Plaza and ask for a receipt. They will be charged the Devon Toll Plaza rate -- $1.50 -- and need to present the receipt at the Devon plaza.
"It's a customer education process," Lafleur said of the project.
Specifics of the detour are as follows:
• Drivers headed north on the Tri-State who want to go west on I-90 will be directed through the Touhy Plaza to the westbound exit, then make a right turn at River Road and enter the southbound Tri-State to reach the exit ramp to I-90.
• Drivers going east on I-190 to reach westbound I-90 will be rerouted onto the northbound Tri-State and follow the same Touhy detour.
Completely closing the ramps instead of keeping one lane open for traffic will allow the tollway to complete the work faster and is a safer option for workers, officials said.
To find out more about the project, visit http://www.illinoistollway.com