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Top IDOT official to talk Ike expansion in Oak Park

Oct. 16, 2013 – Oak Parkers interested in hearing directly from the highest ranking state highway official about plans to reconstruct the Eisenhower Expressway will have their chance on Oct. 29 when Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider will be at Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School, 325 S. Kenilworth Ave.

The public meeting, scheduled for 7:30 to 9 p.m., was arranged by State Senator Don Harmon to give the community an opportunity to hear directly from Schneider, who was appointed IDOT Secretary in 2011 by Governor Pat Quinn.

Audience members will be able to ask questions about the agency’s proposed alternatives for reconfiguring lanes along a stretch of I-290 between Racine Avenue and Mannheim Road. A top CTA official also is scheduled to participate.

IDOT has said it will choose a final preferred alternative by late 2014, and then begin detailed engineering that will lead to construction within the next few years. The CTA is conducting its own study of potential improvements to the Blue Line along the same transportation corridor.

Formal public meetings on the project were held Oct. 7 and Oct. 8 in Chicago and Forest Park. IDOT is accepting public comments on the information presented at those meetings until November 7 at

Harmon is urging Oak Parkers to continue participating in the process to advocate for community benefits as well as mitigation of impacts from IDOT’s desire to add a lane in both directions and move exit and entrance ramps at Harlem Avenue and Austin Boulevard to the right sides of the expressway.

Possible benefits of the project could include expanded sidewalks with improved pedestrian and bicycle access and other usable space on some of the bridges to be rebuilt as part of the project, as well as upgrading of CTA stations and tracks.

However, local residents and officials have voiced concerns about potential negative impacts of the project, including sound and pollution from raising the ramps well above grade along much of Harrison and Garfield streets.

More than 100 residents attended a community meeting hosted by the Village Board on Sept. 30 at Irving School (click here to see a video recording of the meeting). A variety of viewpoints were expressed, with some residents raising concerns about IDOT’s process for evaluating alternatives and others supporting adding lanes to the roadway and extending the CTA Blue Line further west as a way to relieve some traffic congestion.

Click here for more information on the project and its impact on Oak Park.