Could 'managed' toll lanes come to the Ike?
IDOT Secretary Randy Blankenhorn suggested Monday that a pilot project to widen I-55 using new tolled lanes could be expanded elsewhere in the region, possibly on the Eisenhower Expressway if conditions are right.
The Illinois Department of Transportation is planning to build one "managed lane" in each direction of I-55 between the Veterans Memorial Tollway (I-355) and the Dan Ryan Expressway.
The new lanes would be tolled although the rest of I-55 is a freeway, and they could include higher pricing during rush-hour to ensure a fast trip.
During a speech to a City Club of Chicago audience Monday, Blankenhorn said a significant number of major firms are interested in investing in the project and he hopes to proceed once the Illinois General Assembly approves a public-private partnership.
"Once we have extra capacity on I-55, we can begin addressing congestion on other expressways starting with the Eisenhower," Blankenhorn said.
"I believe the I-55 managed lanes can be a model we use elsewhere if conditions are right."
IDOT has been studying how to fix the Eisenhower Expressway bottleneck in Cook County for years. For westbound drivers, the expressway shrinks to three lanes around Oak Park, creating extensive backups.