As the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) narrows the list of I-290 alternatives to four, an additional lane through Oak Park seems all but certain without a major shift in the planning process.
And while state officials say the added lane would not require taking any land in the Village, moving the Harlem Avenue and Austin Boulevard ramps to the outside lanes as proposed in all IDOT alternatives is sure to dramatically change traffic patterns along the busy corridor through Oak Park.
Local officials and dedicated I-290 process watchers have criticized the state approach that has made building a wider highway the centerpiece of plans to improve traffic flow on the Eisehnower Expressway, while alternatives like expanding the Blue Line railway westward have been dismissed in favor of buses linking to existing hubs.
Voicing their concern about the absence of alternatives to expanding the highway, Village officials say they are particularly troubled by deficiencies in the process to garner public input. When residents have submitted comments, IDOT has been slow to respond, officials say, and the state has not provided routine and timely updates via the website they promoted as the interactive portal for public collaboration.
Officials are even more disturbed by the interpretation of statistical data to demonstrate that widening the highway and moving the Harlem and Austin ramps is the only feasible approach to reducing highway congestion.
Environmental and public health considerations also are absent from the process used to study and evaluate options for achieving a long-term regional solution to the transportation challenges posed by the expressway, according to local residents who have most closely monitored the IDOT approach.
Officials insist on a 21st century solution and are unwilling to accept simply building bigger highways, rather than advocating broader transportation initiatives.
Promising to continue working with IDOT to address concerns about the turn I-290 plans have taken, Village officials also are urging residents to monitor the planning process at www.eisenhowerexpressway.com and to voice their views to state officials.