Tollway to spend $1.4 billion on road, bridge projects

Posted10/24/2013 7:49 PM
  • Daily Herald file photoExpect more work on I-90 in 2014 as the Illinois tollway revs up a 15-year construction program.

    Daily Herald file photoExpect more work on I-90 in 2014 as the Illinois tollway revs up a 15-year construction program.

Jane Addams Tollway drivers should brace for more construction in 2014 while Elgin-O'Hare Expressway commuters will see a new I-290 interchange take shape as the Illinois tollway embarks on its biggest capital spending year.

Capital projects in 2014 will total $1.4 billion, a first for the agency, which also hits another milestone -- $1 billion in revenues from tolls and fines, a preliminary budget showed Thursday.

The Illinois State Toll Highway Authority is in the midst of a $12 billion, 15-year road-building program, Move Illinois. The work is being paid mainly through a toll increase instituted in 2012.

"It's the biggest capital program the tollway's ever done," Chairman Paula Wolff said.

Significant road projects in 2014 include:

• Continued widening and improvements to the Jane Addams Tollway. Workers will be rebuilding the westbound section between Mill Road in Rockford and the Elgin toll plaza. The total estimated for I-90 next year is $729 million.

• Building connector bridges at a new interchange with I-290 on the Elgin-O'Hare Expressway, which the tollway is extending east to O'Hare. The tollway also will start work on lane widening between Meacham and Irving Park roads plus new bridges at Elmhurst Road and I-90 as part of the western bypass portion of the project. Elgin-O'Hare expenditures next year are $283 million.

• Finishing the first half of the I-57 and Tri-State interchange, which links two previously unconnected highways. By late 2014, vehicles will be able to travel from northbound I-57 to the Tri-State and from the Tri-State to southbound I-57. About $86 million is allocated for the interchange in 2014.

In addition, about $2.7 million is set aside for planning the proposed Route 53 extension into Lake County.

The $295.5 million preliminary operations and maintenance budget anticipates spending 4.2 percent more than in 2013, with the lion's share going to salaries.

"We're planning for 4 percent growth on average," finance chief Mike Colsch said, referring to the 15-year time span of Move Illinois.

The agency expects to add 16 more state troopers at a cost of $2.6 million as part of a focus on safety.

Hearings on the budget are set for the coming weeks, and the agency will vote on the final budget in December.

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