After years of 50 percent, Huntley-area drivers now have a full interchange at Route 47 and the Jane Addams Tollway.
"We've waited many years for this day to come," said Huntley Mayor Charles Sass. "Christmas does come early."
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"To see this completed is unbelievable," said Dawn Voce, from Operating Engineers 150. "This is our bread and butter. This is how we transport ourselves to and from work, as well as feeding our families."
Officials including Illinois Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur celebrated Friday with a ribbon-cutting, predicting that the project would improve the local economy and improve travel on local roads.
After the ribbon was cut on the westbound entrance ramp to the Jane Addams Tollway and the dignitaries, crowd and chairs were moved out of the way, a convoy of trucks from area businesses and municipalities rolled through the toll plaza to cheers and checkered flags.
Up until now, the interchange was limited to drivers traveling to and from the east.
The $59 million all-electronic interchange is 50 percent funded by the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority with the remainder coming from the state and Huntley, plus Kane and McHenry counties.
The project was built in 17 months and involved six new ramps, rebuilding the bridge over I-90 and widening 1½ miles of Route 47.
Toll rates for cars on the new section are 45 cents for access to and from the west. On the original part, tolls are 30 cents to and from the east.
The interchange is being built as part of the tollway's Move Illinois $12 billion capital program. The original ramps were build in the 1970s.
The project features some environmentally friendly engineering, such as permeable pavers on ramp shoulders that allow water to sink in, not run off, swales that absorb pollutants, and low-energy lighting.
Huntley officials said direct access to the village and Route 47 could lead to new industries and retail, with the potential to create 12,000 related jobs by 2030.