The Federal Highway Administration and Federal Aviation Administration have approved construction of a $3.6-billion Illinois tollway intended to improve access from Chicago suburbs to O'Hare International Airport.
The tollway, part of a 15-year, $12-billion capital program named Move Illinois: The Illinois Tollway Driving the Future, will replace the Elgin-O'Hare Expressway, a corridor that doesn't connect local roads to O'Hare Airport.
Plans call for construction of an all electronic tollway that will bypass O'Hare on its western border and connect to the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90) and the Tri-State Highway (I-294), a pair of existing corridors. The Elgin-O'Hare Expressway will be widened and converted to a toll road that also connects to the bypass.
Funded by toll revenues, the 12-year project is expected to create 65,000 direct and indirect jobs when combined with the completion of the western terminal at O'Hare Airport.
“This critical step towards construction of the Elgin-O’Hare Western Access Project is a testament to the strong regional and bipartisan consensus we built for this project,” Governor Pat Quinn said in a statement on Wednesday. “This historic project will put thousands of Illinois men and women to work improving our infrastructure while driving economic growth across the region.”
Illinois Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur described the project as a “significant step toward better transportation options for residents and businesses in the communities surrounding O'Hare Airport.”
The Illinois State Toll Highway Authority intends to spend nearly $100 million on the bypass in 2013, with further work contingent on land acquisition, permits, agreements and utility relocations.