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Central Avenue Corridor Project Study

The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) is conducting a Preliminary Engineering and Environmental (Phase I) Study for the purpose of improving the north-south movement of vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrians through the study area southwest of Midway Airport. The nine square mile study area is bounded by, 63rd St on the north, Cicero Avenue on the east, 87th Street on the south and Harlem Avenue on the west.

Note: IDOT projects typically have three distinct phases. Phase I (or the project Study) consists of developing the project scope, environmental studies and preliminary design of a project. Phase II (Design) consists of refining the design to develop contract plans and land acquisition. Phase III (Construction) consists of the actual construction of the project.


Currently, the rail yards cut off north-south traffic flow for three miles between Harlem and Cicero Avenues. The result is heavy traffic on Harlem and Cicero Avenues, congestion, and long travel times throughout the area. The Study identified several needs for transportation in the area. The area roadway network needs additional capacity, more connectivity between roads, and better access for other modes of transportation, such as bicycles and pedestrians. In addition, improved traffic flow and increased capacity will help provide economic development for the area.

The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) evaluated four alternatives for addressing the transportation needs. The alternatives evaluated were widening Harlem Avenue, the Central-Narragansett Alternative, the Central-Central Alternative, and widening Cicero Avenue. After evaluating all alternatives, the project team found that the Central-Central Alternative was the most practical plan from a transportation service and cost perspective.

The proposed typical section for Central Avenue will include: two traffic lanes in each direction separated by a median from 79th Street on the south to 63rd Street on the north. A shared use path and or sidewalks will be provided the entire length of the improvement to provide for pedestrians and cyclists. The Central Avenue Connector would pass beneath the BRC rail yard and the existing railroad tracks would be supported on bridges above the roadway. The roadway would return to grade at 79th Street on the south and 65th Street on the north.

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IDOT recommended the Central-Central Alternative because this alternative meets the needs for increasing road capacity more than taking no action and improving existing routes. This alternative also meets the need for improving street connectivity by providing the greatest benefit to motorists in terms of travel time and mileage saved, and by improving the roadway connections between the CSX intermodal yard and Midway Airport. It also supports economic development and provides accommodations for bicycles and pedestrians.


As the Central Avenue Project Study progresses, IDOT will periodically update this website to assure that the motorists of Illinois are kept informed of project information.

The Project Team is interested in hearing from you!

If you have questions or ideas about the project, please fill out the feedback form or contact us at:

Bureau of Programming
Attention: Steve Schilke
201 West Center Court
Schaumburg, IL 60196-1096

The Illinois Department of Transportation looks forward to your continued input and support.

February 17, 2011 Public Meeting:  Central Avenue Project Video

IDOT is currently at the early stages of Phase I for this project. This site will be updated periodically as the project progresses. The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) wishes to thank you for your support and patience.

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