The Village of Oak Park | 123 Madison St.  Oak Park, IL 60302 |

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Community benefits key to I-290 reconstruction discussions

The Illinois Department of Transportation is moving closer to finalizing recommendations for rebuilding the Eisenhower Expressway from Interstate 88 on the west to Racine Avenue on the east.

Just how these proposed changes might affect the community have been the subjects of multiple public meetings. Local officials have dug deep into the details of what Oak Park might gain or lose from one of the largest construction projects here since the Ike was built in the 1950s.

With actual construction still likely years away, local officials are negotiating for significant improvements with lasting community benefits. A major goal is to eliminate many of the original design flaws that complicated traffic and pedestrian movements at intersections and mass transit connections.

When the Eisenhower Expressway was designed and constructed in the mid-20th century, engineers had no noise or air quality standards to help them create a new major highway through such a densely populated area. Data on how design affected traffic and pedestrian safety also were scarce when I-290 was designed.

Limiting exhaust, protecting adjacent neighborhoods from traffic noise and the complications of having ramps in a non-standard location were not major concerns in 1950s-era highway design and construction.

But times have changed.

Now, as plans to rebuild I-290 are developed, engineers have an abundance of data to help guide design and construction — data they say are now being used extensively to plan the Eisenhower’s future look and function.

The Village has compiled an extensive online repository of information related to efforts to monitor and manage the development of the state’s I-290 reconstruction recommendations.

Residents who visit can link to a wide range of documents, videos and presentations, as well as IDOT’s official project web page. In addition, the page offers links to comments posted by residents on specific aspects of the proposals, including air quality and noise, sidewalk and street widths, and traffic and pedestrian movements.

Presentations to the Village Board also have been video recorded and are available on the Village website.In addition, a three-dimensional model of changes proposed to the roadway is on display through Nov. 6 at Village Hall, 123 Madison St.

Summary of Recommendations
• Integrate future CTA Blue Line improvements.
• Keep roadway within current, below-grade right of way.
• Move vehicle exit and entry ramps to outside lanes.
• Lower portions the highway up to nine feet and shift as much as 25 feet south.
• Widen sidewalks up to 12 feet on most bridges, and up to 16 feet by CTA access points.
• Improve vehicle drop off and transfer areas at CTA access points.
• Add safety islands between ramps for pedestrians crossing busy intersections.
• Assure ADA accessibility at all intersections.
• Create space on the bridges and near CTA stations for aesthetic features such as benches, bicycle racks and plants.