×

Anyone, 5 years of age and older, is eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Find your nearest vaccination location at vaccines.gov.

I-290 Eisenhower Expressway

Serving as the western gateway to the city of Chicago and the Chicago Central Area, I-290 is a major link in the transportation network serving northeast Illinois. This section of I-290 is the primary corridor connecting commuters between the western suburbs and the City of Chicago Loop, as well as connecting commuters from south Cook County to the high employment centers found in the I-88 Technology Corridor and the O'Hare International Airport commerce centers.

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.

 

History

In 1940, the City Council of Chicago established the Westside Route, or Congress Expressway, as their first priority in a comprehensive superhighway system. The work on Congress Expressway was expected to begin quickly since the war was over, but skyrocketing costs, limited funding, extensive utility relocation, poor subsurface conditions, and the need for agreements with three railroads, municipalities and a cemetery all added time and cost to the project schedule. Construction would also have to accommodate the CTA Congress Line in the median and the temporary relocation of the Douglas Park CTA line. As a result, the first section of the expressway was not completed until December 1954. Construction of individual sections from Mannheim Rd. (US12/20/45) to Racine Avenue was completed between 1954 and 1960, making it one of the oldest sections of the region's highway infrastructure. This section of I-290, named the Eisenhower Expressway, was also the first expressway in the United States to incorporate a rapid transit line and an expressway within the same corridor.

Location

The I-290 study area is located in Cook County and extends approximately thirteen miles centered along I-290 from the I-88 and I-290 split on the west to Racine Avenue on the east. This corridor passes through eight communities: Chicago, Bellwood, Broadview, Forest Park, Hillside, Maywood, Oak Park, and Westchester.

Serving as the western gateway to the City of Chicago and the Chicago Central Area, I-290 is the primary corridor connecting commuters between the western suburbs and the City of Chicago Loop, as well as connecting commuters from south Cook County to the high employment centers found in the I-88 Technology Corridor and the O'Hare International Airport commerce centers.

Scope

The Eisenhower Expressway (I-290) is severely congested, has 2,000 crashes per year on average, and most of the pavement and bridges are still original to their 1950’s construction and in need of replacement. To address these issues, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) initiated the Eisenhower Expressway Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) Study, from Mannheim Road to Cicero Avenue, in the fall of 2009.  The purpose of the study is to improve transportation along the I-290 multi-modal corridor. The specific transportation needs identified include: improve mobility for regional and local travel, improve access to employment, improve safety, improve transit connections and opportunities, and improve facility deficiencies. As the alternative’s evaluation process advanced, there was a need to extend the limits of the I-290 study four miles eastward to Racine Avenue for the Draft and Final Environmental Impact Statement.

I-290 Study Area

In June of 2017 a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) and a Record of Decision (ROD) was signed by the FHWA that identified the HOT 3+ & EXP & HCT Alternative (also referred to as Alternative HOT 3+) as the Selected Alternative. This alternative consisted of adding one High Occupancy Toll (HOT) 3+ lane (three or more occupants per vehicle required for non-tolled use, or one/two occupants per vehicle paying a toll) in each direction between 25th Avenue and Austin Boulevard; conversion of one existing general-purpose lane in each direction west of 25th Avenue and east of Austin Boulevard to HOT 3+ use; and provisions for express bus service and a high-capacity transit extension. Based on an FHWA project Cost Estimate Review in June of 2017, the construction cost of the Selected Alternative was estimated at $3.2 billion.

As the proposed improvement is not currently included in Department's FY 2022-2027 Proposed Highway Improvement Program and continues to be one of several regional expressway corridors competing for limited available State and Federal funding, the Department must now consider more sustainable solutions for addressing the reconstruction needs of this facility and is continuing to evaluate financial plans and methods to deliver this improvement.

Study Process

Alternatives Development & Evaluation

To identify initial alternatives for modeling and evaluation, stakeholder ideas were first categorized by their primary transportation mode and then grouped by similarity. The number of alternatives was further refined based on: feasibility, impacts, performance, cost, and additional stakeholder input.

The alternatives evaluation process included the examination of all modes of travel within the transportation system and included coordination with area transportation agencies (i.e. RTA, CTA, etc.), and their needs in the corridor. The three evaluation rounds can be summarized as follows:

  • Round 1- The identification and evaluation of single-mode alternatives, which are alternatives that consider changes to or improvements of only one mode of transportation, to understand the performance benefits of improvements to individual modes as to how well they addressed the Purpose & Need.
  • Round 2- Based on the results of the Round 1 Single-Mode Evaluation, an initial set of combination mode alternatives were assembled for evaluation in Round 2. Combination-mode alternatives include improvements to, or additions of, more than one mode of transportation (e.g. transit and expressway improvements). In Round 2, the alternatives performance was evaluated as to how well they addressed the identified purpose and need. Top performing alternatives were then considered for further refinement and evaluation in Round 3.
  • Round 3- The top performing Round 2 Combination Mode alternatives were carried forward for further refinement and evaluation in Round 3. Round 3 added design details and incorporated additional analysis including additional travel benefits, environmental effects, construction staging costs, and funding. At the end of Round 3, a smaller set of alternatives were further refined and evaluated in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement will be identified.

The Study Team evaluated alternatives based on technical studies and stakeholder input received throughout the I-290 study. Stakeholders were engaged continuously throughout the study process and regularly provided comments and feedback, via one-on-one meetings, town hall meetings, the project website, and public meetings.

Under the provisions of NEPA, multiple alternatives, including the "No Action" alternative, were examined during this process, initial impacts to the surrounding communities were evaluated and key environmental factors identified.

Preferred Alternative

The Round 3 finalist alternatives identified in the Alternatives Development and Evaluation phase underwent more detailed engineering and environmental analysis to evaluate environmental impacts and further refine how well they addressed the I-290 study's identified needs. The environmental analysis included assessing the natural, built, and human environment to determine the extent of impacts that may arise from implementing the improvement. Environmental factors including air quality, noise, socioeconomic impacts, environmental justice, and cultural resources were assessed.

These findings, in addition to the findings from previous steps, were reported in the Environmental Impact Statement. The Preferred Alternative phase concluded with a recommendation of a Preferred Alternative.

IDOT designated the I-290 study as a Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS) project which is a collaborative approach involving all stakeholders to develop a project that fits into its surroundings and preserves scenic, aesthetic, historic, and environmental resources while maintaining safety and mobility. The purpose of CSS is to gather and consider input on the project from all interested stakeholders. Public involvement is a key component of CSS and is strongly encouraged during this study. IDOT proactively sought stakeholder input and developed to assist with identifying solutions for this study area.

A stakeholder is anyone who could be affected by the project and has a stake in its outcome. Stakeholders are identified as all residents of the study area, users of the facility, and those interested parties who can directly affect the outcome of a planning process.

A Stakeholder Involvement Plan (SIP) was prepared for this project and was used as a blueprint that defined the methods and tools to educate and engage all stakeholders in the decision-making process for this project.

Involvement Tools

Corridor Advisory Group

The CAG was comprised of local elected officials from each of the eight communities in the Study Area and the Chairmen or representatives from Cook and DuPage counties. The responsibility of the CAG was to review study information presented and provide input to help guide the development and evaluation of solutions in this corridor.

Public Outreach Meetings

Various meetings were held throughout the project development process providing input opportunities for all stakeholders and included:

  • Small Group Meetings: Small group meetings that engaged stakeholders to share information and fostered conversations to address specific project issues, allowing for more specialized discussions and input, and aided the general public in better understanding the project goals and objectives.
  • Agency & Municipal Meetings: Agency and Municipal meetings were held to discuss and coordinate specific project issues with those that would be impacted by the project.
  • Speakers' Bureau: The speakers' bureau consisted of IDOT and Consultant staff and was assembled as needed or requested to present project-related information to interested local civic or service organizations.

Public Meetings & Public Hearing: Public meetings and Town Hall Meetings were held at key points during the supplemental studies to engage the public. The purpose of the meetings was to solicit the viewpoints and opinions of those who participated regarding the information presented. Questions raised by meeting participants, depending on the nature, were either answered immediately or addressed in subsequent meetings, newsletters or other communication mechanisms. Public meetings were generally presented overall study information, town hall meetings were more focused and intended to work though community specific concerns. The public outreach process culminated with a Public Hearing at which the preferred alternative was presented.

Comments received at these meetings were documented and the information was considered a part of the analysis and evaluation of the improvement alternatives. Individuals on the mailing list received invitations in the mail announcing meeting information.

Other Public Involvement Opportunities

In addition to the meeting opportunities described in the preceding section, several other methods were used to obtain information from the public about the project. These methods (noted below) provided information and opportunities for feedback regarding forthcoming public meeting events, project schedule, and provided general project status updates within the study area.

  • Mailing List and e-subscription: To support public meeting invitations, newsletter distribution and other direct public contact, a mailing was developed including, mailing addresses, phone numbers and e-mail addresses per each person's preferences.
  • Newsletters: Newsletters are study publications that featured the latest project news and are used as a means of communicating information about the project and status in general.
  • Comment and Mailing List Form: Please fill out a comment form, as we are interested in your thoughts and ideas.

The Eisenhower Expressway Study has a dedicated YouTube Channel for videos related to the study. 

Use this link to access the Eisenhower Expressway Study video channel

The preliminary engineering and environmental (Phase I) study of the Eisenhower Expressway (I-290) has concluded. However, the proposed improvement is not currently included in Department's FY 2022-2027 Proposed Highway Improvement Program. As this improvement continues to be one of several regional expressway corridors competing for limited available State and Federal funding, the Department must now consider more sustainable solutions for addressing the reconstruction needs of this facility and is continuing to evaluate financial plans and methods to deliver this improvement.

Photo Gallery