O’Hare shoulder lane scofflaws could be facing $100 fines, camera surveillance

Drivers who illegally perch on expressway shoulder lanes near O’Hare International Airport waiting to collect passengers could face a pricey reckoning soon.

The O’Hare Driver Safety Act, which cleared the General Assembly Thursday, would impose $100 tickets on people caught parking on highway shoulder lanes within one-half mile of the airport.

The policy impacts I-190 and I-90. It also requires the Illinois tollway to install cameras to help detect scofflaws, in addition to state police enforcement.

Spearheaded by Rosemont Mayor and Republican state Rep. Brad Stephens, House Bill 5408 passed in the House by a 106-1 vote on April 18 and a 50-5 Senate vote Thursday. It awaits Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s signature.

“It’s a preventive measure,” Stephens said. “We’re waiting for a disaster to happen and I think we need to address it. (O’Hare) provides some fairly nice and very conveniently located cellphone lots within the airport itself.”

He gave the scenario of a mother picking up her college kid for the holidays. “They’re waiting on the side of the road. The windows get fogged up. Junior sends a text saying ‘I’m waiting at this door.’ They jut out and get smeared by a semi.”

Illinois State Police agree that “parking on the shoulder where prohibited is not only dangerous, but against the law,” Trooper Melissa Albert-Lopez told the Daily Herald previously. “These stopped vehicles then enter the lane of traffic in front of other vehicles and create dangerous situations, increasing the likelihood of a crash.”

There would be exceptions from tickets, such as drivers stopping for emergencies or yielding to emergency vehicles.

Coming home from Springfield in early May, Stephens did a visual inspection as he neared O’Hare.

“I looked down the Kennedy Expressway over River Road, and I couldn’t tell you how many lights I saw parked on the side. It’s crazy.”

The Daily Herald reported on the problem Nov. 6. Shortly after, Stephens told the newspaper he was working on a legislative fix. The bill was filed Feb. 9.

  The Illinois General Assembly has passed a bill imposing new fines on drivers who illegally park on expressway shoulder lanes near O’Hare International Airport. Brian Hill/

Despite an acrimonious session, rural, suburban and Chicago lawmakers found common cause in the bill.

“I can’t tell you how many downstate legislators” vented to him about shoulder squatters at O’Hare, Stephens noted.

It didn’t hurt that Democratic leaders Speaker Chris Welch of Chicago and Senate President Don Harmon of Oak Park became chief sponsors.

“If you’ve been to O’Hare lately, you’ll see countless cars parked on the shoulder of the highway waiting to be called to pick someone up,” Harmon said at a May 9 Executive Committee hearing.

“They should be in the cellphone lot or somewhere else but instead they’re on the shoulders. This bill would provide an enforcement mechanism to stop people from loitering unsafely on the shoulder.”

For the record, O'Hare has a free cellphone lot at 560 N. Bessie Coleman Drive, a free Kiss n' Fly location at the Multi-Modal Facility, pickup and drop-off at terminals, plus $3 an hour parking. To learn more, go to

Meanwhile, the “Illinois tollway is reviewing the bill to determine its impact on the agency,” spokesman Dan Rozek said when asked about the policy. “The tollway is committed to protecting the safety of drivers using our roads.”

Gridlock alert

• Eastbound Ogden Avenue near Hinsdale is down to one lane between County Line Road and Grove Avenue for the summer courtesy of the Illinois tollway.

• You can thank IDOT for temporary daytime lane closures on Higgins Road between Reinking Road in Pingree Grove to Route 20/Route 47 for resurfacing.

You should know

Not fond of flying but have to? Cheer yourself up with an empanada at a newly opened eatery at O’Hare. The Chicago Department of Aviation recently announced three incoming businesses at Terminal 3. They include Half Moon Empanadas, ChiBoys clothing shop and a Hudson Nonstop convenience store.

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.