Hinsdale fears loss of tollway oasis

Hinsdale-area residents pushed back against a plan to widen the Central Tri-State Tollway and possibly remove the village's namesake oasis Monday.

The Illinois tollway is planning a reconstruction and possible expansion of its busiest road between Balmoral Avenue and 95th Street that could start in 2020.

The project is challenging because of traffic volumes, constrained spaces (such as the Mile Long Bridge), and intricate connections with I-290 and I-88.

Several communities hope the rebuild could fix flooding and improve access by modernizing outdated interchanges.

However, residents from Hinsdale and Western Springs told tollway directors at a Customer Service and Planning Committee meeting adding more lanes was unthinkable.

"It would have a devastating effect on property values," Hinsdale Village President Tom Cauley said. He predicted widening would increase noise and air pollution and would decimate houses, village parks and ball fields near the Tri-State.

Cauley objected to the idea of removing the Hinsdale oasis, saying it could cost the village about $540,000 in taxes a year.

Tollway Chairman Bob Schillerstrom said there is a possibility the oasis could go but stressed nothing has been decided yet, including the number of lanes to be widened.

"We will take into consideration what their concerns are," he said. "If the bridge over the oasis has to go away, we'll certainly look at alternatives to continue to provide services for people who have used the oasis in the past."

The agency is getting close to proposing a formal plan for the Tri-State, he added.

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