The I-90 Corridor Planning Council co-chairs today presented the Illinois Tollway board of directors with recommendations for the I-90 Corridor from Chicago to Rockford, including the Kennedy Expressway and the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway, along with a resolution supporting the implementation of congestion-priced managed lanes on the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway.
Recognizing that the I-90 Corridor is essential to northern Illinois' continued economic growth and vitality, in May 2011, the Planning Council was created to research opportunities for new and innovative ways to improve transportation for the region and to maximize existing infrastructure and financial resources to ensure that the I-90 Corridor can fulfill travel demand and support economic development in the years to come. As a result, the Planning Council developed a blueprint to accommodate transit along the I-90 Corridor and concluded that congestion pricing is a financially viable option to provide flexibility for future growth.
Co-chaired by Stephen Ernst, executive director of the Rockford Metropolitan Agency for Planning (RMAP), and Don Kopec, deputy director of planning and programming for the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP), the I-90 Corridor Planning Council includes representatives from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), the region's transit and transportation planning agencies, the business community and environmental groups, as well as the five county boards along the corridor, legislators and the Northwest Municipal Conference.
"The Tollway's I-90 widening and reconstruction project provides this region with a real opportunity to implement managed lanes that also accommodate transit," said Kopec. "It allows us to look at transportation improvements differently than we have in the past and provide real options for the traveling public."
"The Planning Council's goal is to create a state-of-the-art corridor that will better connect the Rockford and Chicago metropolitan areas, helping all residents along I-90 more easily access a larger job market and spur economic development," Ernst said.
The Council's report includes the following recommendations:
* The Illinois Tollway should implement congestion-priced managed lanes on the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway and facilitate transit use of these lanes;
* IDOT should consider continuing managed lanes with transit on the Kennedy Expressway;
* Infrastructure improvements should include improved access to O'Hare International Airport, existing transit service and bike/pedestrian facilities on bridge crossings;
* The Tollway and IDOT should conduct a joint study to make recommendations for improvements to connect the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway with the Kennedy Expressway, improve access to O'Hare International Airport, connect to existing transit and integrate all future plans;
* Local governments along the I-90 Corridor should plan for station areas, park-and-ride lots and other amenities needed to support transit options. IDOT and the Tollway should also consider right-of-way acquisition to support and provide improved access to transit amenities;
* Agencies should follow a consistent set of best practices in regard to environmental issues, including storm water, green technologies and management of invasive species; and
* RMAP and CMAP should seek to develop regional policies for congestion pricing.
Presentation of the report and adoption of the resolution concludes the Planning Council's work. The Illinois Tollway will continue to coordinate with transit and transportation agencies to evaluate the report's recommendations and focus on community outreach, including the establishment of Community Corridor Councils—one for the western projects (Rockford to Elgin) and one for the eastern projects (Elgin to Rosemont)—to help guide future improvements to the I-90 Corridor.
Rebuilding and widening the 54-year-old Jane Addams Memorial Tollway from the Kennedy Expressway to I-39 in Rockford in 2013-2016 is part of the 15-year, $12 billion capital program, Move Illinois: The Illinois Tollway Driving the Future. The Move Illinois program commits $2.2 billion to ensure that when the project is complete, I-90 will be a 21st century, state-of-the-art corridor linking Rockford to O'Hare Airport with eight lanes from the Kennedy Expressway to Randall Road and six lanes from Randall Road to I-39.