Jane Addams Tollway (I-90) drivers will see some dividends this year on higher tolls instituted in 2012 as construction to widen and reinvent the road kicks off.
The Illinois tollway is spreading the $2.2 billion project over four years. The eastbound section of I-90 between Elgin and Rockford is the first to be rebuilt, with work starting this spring and finishing later in 2013.
When it's wrapped up in 2016, the Jane Addams will have an extra lane in each direction, plus a state-of-the-art shoulder for express buses. New park-and-ride facilities and interchanges are also under discussion.
If you're a Jane Addams frequent flier who is asking, "didn't the road just get redone in 2011?" you are correct, tollway officials said at a Tuesday open house in Huntley.
The resurfacing "was a Band-Aid to get through," engineering deputy chief for planning Rocco Zucchero said. "The base material was 54 years old."
Widening I-90 to three lanes in each direction between Rockford and the Elgin Toll Plaza and to four lanes in each direction from the toll plaza out to Chicago is projected to accommodate 30,000 more vehicles a day. It also should reduce commutes between Elgin and the Kennedy Expressway by up to 25 minutes.
Asked about the need to add lanes in rural areas, Zucchero said it would improve safety.
"There's not a huge traffic volume but there's a lot of trucks in more rural sections. Side-to-side trucks can create bottlenecks," Zucchero said.
There's also the possibility of new or expanded interchanges at spots including Irene Road in Belvidere, McHenry County and the Schaumburg/Hoffman Estates area.
The tollway has a policy of splitting the costs of interchanges with sponsoring communities.
"If we are doing construction, it's a great opportunity to get something done collaboratively now," Zucchero said.
The hope is to limit lane closures by shifting lanes and using shoulders at least during peak hours. Two lanes of traffic will be kept open at all times.
Another feature of the project that's already started is a full interchange at Route 47 in Huntley, scheduled to open later this year. Drivers should expect some lane closures and traffic pattern shifts on Route 47 near I-90 in the meantime.
In 2014, construction crews will widen westbound I-90 between Elgin and Rockford; work on the Elgin to Chicago segment is set for 2015 through 2016.
The agency also plans to start work late this year on a bridge to take traffic southbound on Elmhurst Road near Des Plaines over I-90. It's the first step in building a full interchange at I-90 and Elmhurst Road, which is part of the Elgin-O'Hare Expressway and western bypass project.
The tollway raised rates in early 2012 to pay for its massive $12 billion Move Illinois road-building program.