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posted: 10/21/2013 5:00 PM

New roads, lanes take priority over oasis

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An Oct. 12 letter to the editor suggests the Illinois Tollway demonstrated poor planning when it funded the renovation of the Des Plaines Oasis in 2003 and recently announced that it would remove the structure in 2014.

The author's claim is not factually accurate and misses the issue. To be fair, there were no tollway or public dollars invested in the 2003 reconstruction and redevelopment of the oases. In fact, private developers paid all of the approximate $94 million costs to redevelop the Des Plaines Oasis and six other oasis structures. In addition to tollway patrons receiving the benefit of new, modern facilities since the renovations were completed in 2005, the tollway has received annual rents from the operators of the rebuilt oasis facilities.

While the tollway will pay to terminate the lease so the oasis can be removed, those costs will be recouped within four years by the rents received from the remaining oases.

We believe tollway customers will gain more than they are losing with the addition of a new, fourth lane of traffic in each direction on the rebuilt, state-of-the-art Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90). Removing the oasis also helps clear the way to build the long-awaited Elgin-O'Hare Western Access, which will offer new access to O'Hare International Airport and a new connection between I-90 and the Tri-State Tollway (I-294).

We consider the tollway oases to be an important part of our agency's history. But, in our view, the tremendous benefits that will result from these expanded roadways including -- faster travel times, less congestion, reduced pollution and enhanced regional mobility -- far outweigh the loss.

Kristi Lafleur

Executive director

Illinois Tollway

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