'Massive' construction ahead for I-90, Elgin-O'Hare commuters

“Massive” is how tollway engineers described the upcoming construction season. And that's not as in massively awesome, but as in drivers can expect one big, eye-rolling, headbanging, stress-inducing commute on two major toll roads this year.

As soon as the weather breaks, likely mid-March, crews will start shifting traffic and tearing up pavement to launch the tollway's $1.6 billion 2015 building program.

The focus continues on the Jane Addams (I-90) Tollway and Elgin-O'Hare Expressway (I-390) extension with a new front opening on the Reagan Memorial Tollway (I-88) near Rochelle.

Compared to 2014, construction “this year is going to be even bigger,” Chief Engineer Paul Kovacs told board members Thursday. “What's ahead is going to be massive.”

But at the end of 2016, I-90 users “will have a state-of-the-art roadway with a new driving surface,” Executive Director Kristi Lafleur added.

Here's a look at significant projects in 2015:

• Widening the Jane Addams Tollway to four lanes in both directions will continue between the Elgin toll plaza and the Tri-State (I-294) interchange. Three lanes in each direction will remain open. Construction will occur in the outside lanes in 2015. Drivers will be shifted to the inside lanes and shoulder starting next month, weather permitting.

• This summer, the tollway expects to deliver one improvement to drivers by completing the westbound I-290 flyover ramp to the westbound Elgin-O'Hare Expressway. Then, the focus will shift to the remaining legs of the interchange. Work also will continue on the Elmhurst Road interchange with the Jane Addams Tollway, which is part of the western bypass around O'Hare that will connect to the Elgin-O'Hare by 2025.

• The tollway will resurface 32 miles of I-88 between Route 251 near Rochelle and Route 30 near Sterling.

Planners urged drivers to observe the 45 mph speed limits in work zones. “We appreciate our customers' patience,” Kovacs said.

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