Tollway wants higher I-90 speeds, but officials warn of confusion

 
 
Posted7/28/2017 5:30 AM
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  • If state officials approve changes made by tollway directors, speeds will changing on some parts of the Jane Addams Tollway (I-90).

      If state officials approve changes made by tollway directors, speeds will changing on some parts of the Jane Addams Tollway (I-90). Jeff Knox | Staff Photographer

Tollway directors approved increasing speeds on the recently reconstructed Jane Addams Tollway (I-90) Thursday, but it was with some reservations about the smorgasbord of options facing drivers.

If approved by state officials, the speed limit for passenger cars on I-90 would increase from 55 mph to 70 mph between the Des Plaines Oasis and Randall Road.

The speed limit for cars would increase from 55 mph to 60 mph east of the Des Plaines Oasis to the Kennedy Expressway. Once cars reach the Kennedy, the speed is 55 mph.

Toll roads in the metro region have a variety of posted speeds ranging from 55 mph to 70 mph.

The variations "get confusing for people," Director and Elk Grove Mayor Craig Johnson said. "You're driving 70 mph all the way from Wisconsin and all of a sudden you're down to 60 mph or 55 mph. Why is there not a uniform speed?"

Chief Engineer Paul Kovacs said the differences are based on an analysis of safety and road design.

"Some sections of the road are not designed for 70 mph," Kovacs said.

And in chronically congested stretches, such as along the Central Tri-State, "it's not safe to post higher limits," he noted.

Director Joseph Gomez agreed with Johnson and asked if the tollway "should give more ample warning to people" about speed changes.

"We try to provide a transition," Kovacs said.

The tollway board had revised speeds for sections of its other toll roads in 2015 but was waiting for construction to wrap up on the Jane Addams before a redo.

Officials also changed the speed limit for trucks and buses. It is currently 55 mph between the Kennedy Expressway and Randall Road.

If approved, buses could travel at 65 mph between the Des Plaines Oasis and Randall Road. Buses could go at 60 mph between the Des Plaines Oasis and the Kennedy.

For trucks, the new limits would be 60 mph between Randall Road and the Kennedy.

The speed limit for trucks is capped by state statute at 60 mph within the Chicago collar counties, while the speed limit for buses in the collar counties is capped at 65 mph, tollway spokesman Dan Rozek said.

The new speed limits will go to a state committee composed of lawmakers that decides rule changes. A decision will likely take a few months.

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