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updated: 4/27/2020 1:51 PM

COVID-19 can't stop roadwork season. Here's where construction will affect your drive

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  • The Illinois tollway's $4 billion project to widen the Central Tri-State (I-294), pictured at the O'Hare Oasis, continues this summer.

    The Illinois tollway's $4 billion project to widen the Central Tri-State (I-294), pictured at the O'Hare Oasis, continues this summer.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Work will move forward as planned this summer on the Illinois tollway's $4 billion project to widen the Central Tri-State (I-294). Construction this year will include an interchange at I-57.

    Work will move forward as planned this summer on the Illinois tollway's $4 billion project to widen the Central Tri-State (I-294). Construction this year will include an interchange at I-57.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • While bracing for the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Illinois tollway is continuing its work this summer to widen the Central Tri-State (I-294) from Rosemont to Oak Lawn.

    While bracing for the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Illinois tollway is continuing its work this summer to widen the Central Tri-State (I-294) from Rosemont to Oak Lawn.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • The Illinois tollway's $4 billion project to widen the Central Tri-State (I-294), pictured at the O'Hare Oasis, continues this summer.

    The Illinois tollway's $4 billion project to widen the Central Tri-State (I-294), pictured at the O'Hare Oasis, continues this summer.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

 
 

On the plus side, working from home because of COVID-19 provides relief from the delays and congestion of summer road work.

On the other hand, perhaps crawling at 10 mph alongside bulldozers is preferable to summer chez the makeshift office in your closet.

Mixed blessings aside, myriad highway construction projects like widening the Central Tri-State Tollway (I-294) are still on -- even as funding from tolls and gas taxes tanks because of a stay-at-home order to reduce spread of the respiratory disease.

"We have several construction projects ongoing or anticipated, with no plans to stop, suspend or accelerate work at this time," Illinois Department of Transportation spokeswoman Maria Castaneda said.

Here's a snapshot of some game-changing projects that could prolong commutes:

An interchange between the Route 390 extension east to O'Hare International Airport and the I-490 ring road around the airport is gaining steam.

The interchange will provide a back door to O'Hare and trigger economic development in DuPage and Cook counties, planners say.

As a result, the "tollway has developed an expanded design for construction to provide direct access into and out of airport property, with three lanes entering and three lanes exiting the west side of the airport," spokesman Dan Rozek said.

The interchange will wrap up in three years. Significant efforts this season include building Route 390 bridges over Supreme Drive and the CTM Railroad, plus a ramp bridge linking northbound I-490 to westbound Route 390.

Toll road warriors can also anticipate traffic and delays on the Central Tri-State as part of a $4 billion widening between Rosemont and Oak Lawn; this year's priority is an interchange with I-294 and I-57.

Meanwhile, IDOT's epic battle to untangle the infamous gridlock on the Jane Byrne Interchange where the Kennedy, Eisenhower and Dan Ryan expressways converge grinds on.

The leviathan started out at $535 million, according to 2013 cost estimates, but has grown to $796.5 million, engineers projected in November.

Work on one major prong of the interchange in 2020 started in March with demolition and replacement of the Jackson Avenue bridge over the Kennedy Expressway (I-90).

Elsewhere, construction of a flyover ramp connecting with Cumberland Avenue to ease Kennedy Expressway traffic jams near O'Hare is ongoing.

An added twist on the Kennedy this year is replacing the Montrose Avenue bridge that spans I-90/94 near the CTA Blue Line Montrose station.

"To avoid closing the expressway entirely and to minimize the impact to traffic, the bridge will be removed over multiple weekends with extensive lane and ramp closures, with detours to demo the bridge deck and beams," Castaneda explained.

One unique localized project is Kane County's Longmeadow Parkway, which will be partly funded by a 95-cent toll paid by most drivers at the Fox River. Work in 2020 focuses on a segment between Routes 31 and 25; completion is set for 2022.

You should know

Some other significant highway projects include:

• Reconstruction of the Edens Spur near Northbrook, which wraps up this year.

• Building ramps on I-490 linking to westbound I-90 and a bridge carrying traffic over the Touhy Reservoir near Des Plaines.

• Extending Route 390 between Route 83 and York Road.

• Converting the I-55 and Weber Road interchange near Bolingbrook into a diverging diamond design, similar to Elmhurst Road at I-90 or Route 59 at the Reagan Memorial Tollway.

• Replacing bridge deck on I-55 between the BNSF Railroad and Grant Creek near Romeoville, with lane reductions.

• Rebuilding the I-290 bridge over Salt Creek near Addison.

To learn more, check out IDOT's list of news about specific projects or the tollway's project list.

One more thing

Tollway engineers provided some specifics about connections between Route 390 and York Road in Bensenville. "Due to the proximity of Route 83 to York Road and the ramps making up the I-490/IL 390 interchange, direct access between Route 390 and York Road is not planned as part of the project," spokeswoman Joelle McGinnis said. "The access will be via the new one way frontage roads that have been constructed along the north and south sides of Route 390 between Route 83 and Supreme Drive, and the new two-way frontage road located along the south side of the future Route 390/I-490 interchange between Supreme Drive and York Road."

Got a road work question? Drop an email to mpyke@dailyherald.com.