Tri-State Tollway bridge to be named for late Rosemont Mayor Donald E. Stephens
Donald E. Stephens' mark on Rosemont and Illinois politics is etched in the history books. Now his name will be etched on the side of a state bridge.
The Balmoral Avenue bridge over the Tri-State Tollway will be dedicated as the Donald E. Stephens Memorial Bridge after a resolution unanimously passed the state Senate last week and the House the week before.
It's fitting because the longtime mayor was the one to secure state funds for the engineering design of the Balmoral off-ramp before he died in 2007.
At the time, the 200,000-square-foot entertainment district and 530,000-square-foot Fashion Outlets of Chicago indoor mall on either side of Balmoral was only conceptual.
"It was his idea. ... It was a relief valve," his son, current Mayor Brad Stephens, said about traffic flow at the confluence of Interstates 294, 90 and the Kennedy Expressway.
Brad Stephens, also the Republican state representative for the area, said naming the bridge for his dad had been contemplated for some time by state Rep. Marty Moylan, the Des Plaines Democrat and former mayor whose district abuts Stephens'.
Moylan encouraged Stephens to push through the House resolution, but Stephens said he didn't think it was right "for me to be slapping my dad on the back."
So Moylan -- chairman of the House Transportation: Regulations, Roads & Bridges committee -- decided to sponsor the legislation at the end of the General Assembly's recent spring session. (He wanted to dedicate the off-ramp itself, but the Illinois Tollway only allows bridge dedications.)
Signage likely will be affixed to the side of the bridge above the tollway where it says Balmoral Avenue, but a date for the dedication ceremony hasn't been set.