Did You Know?

Frequently Asked Questions

Where is the study area?

The I-55 study area is generally located along I-55 from I-355 (Veterans Memorial Tollway) to I-90/94 (Dan Ryan Expressway); and is located in DuPage, and Cook Counties in Illinois.

What is the schedule for the study?

The I-55 Managed Lane Phase I Study was initiated in April 2012 and is anticipated to be completed in 2016.

Will the Bus on Shoulders program continue?

Following the completion of the project, Pace buses will benefit greatly as they will be able to travel in the managed lanes for the entire 25 mile corridor. The current Bus on Shoulder Program has limitations as Pace buses are only able to ride on 15 miles of the shoulder along I-55 from I-355 to Kedzie Avenue which includes two gapped sections. In addition, buses can only use the shoulder when mainline traffic is moving at less than 35 miles per hour (mph), and buses shall not exceed the speed of traffic by more than 15 mph with the maximum speed being 35 mph. Upon completion of the project, the managed lanes will allow Pace buses to travel at the same or at higher travel speeds than the mainline traffic for the entire corridor by effectively managing congestion to optimize traffic flow.

What are the next steps in the process?

The next step in the Phase I process will be to present the recommended preferred alternative and environmental report to the public for review and comment.  IDOT will consider all input, including stakeholder comments and technical analysis on the preferred alternative and the potential environmental impacts.

The last step in the Phase I study process is to review the findings of the environmental study document and obtain approval from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

Who is involved in the I-55 Managed Lane Project?

The I-55 project is being led by the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT)in partnership with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). As part of the public outreach program, the project team will seek input from a broad range of stakeholders, including area residents, municipalities, counties, townships, agencies, elected officials, and interested groups.

How can I participate in the study?

The public involvement framework is based upon IDOT's Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS) policy. Public involvement is a key component of CSS and is strongly encouraged during the study. Throughout the project, IDOT stays committed to providing many opportunities for the public to provide input on their needs and potential solutions within the corridor. Forums include a project website, a Corridor Planning Group (CPG), public meetings, and small group meetings. Through these and other means, IDOT will pro-actively seek stakeholder input and partnerships early and often to develop a general understanding on solutions.

How will the study be funded?

Funding for this project beyond Phase I is not currently included in the Department’s Fiscal Year 2016-2021 Proposed Highway Improvement Program. However, as part of the planning process, the Department is exploring various ways to fund the design (Phase II) and construction (Phase III) of the project.

When can the project be constructed?

Phase I is anticipated to be completed in 2016. Phase II (Final Design and Contract Plan Preparation) and Phase III (Construction) are expected to take approximately one to three years to complete contingent upon funding availability.

What constitutes a stakeholder?

Stakeholders for a project include any person or organization who has interest in the project.  Stakeholders can include residents and landowners near a project, commuters, advocates for policy, community and historic interests, elected officials, government agencies, and many others.

What are managed lanes?

A managed lane is a type of highway lane that is operated with a management scheme, such as lane use restrictions or variable tolling, to optimize traffic flow, vehicle throughput, or both.  They provide users with travel options and improve traffic flow resulting in improved operations through travel time reliability, increasing average vehicle occupancies and supporting transit ridership.

What managed lane options are there?

High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) 2+: Only passenger vehicles with 2 or more occupants and public transit buses are allowed to utilize the lane free of charge.

High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) 3+: Only passenger vehicles with 3 or more occupants and public transit buses are allowed to utilize the lane free of charge.

High-Occupancy Toll (HOT) 2+: Passenger vehicles with 2 or more occupants and public transit buses travel free. Single Occupancy Vehicles (SOV) can use the lane if they pay a toll. Tolls can be fixed or variable.

High-Occupancy Toll (HOT) 3+: Passenger vehicles with 3 or more occupants and public transit buses travel free. Vehicles with 2 or less occupants (HOV 2 and SOV) can use the lane if they pay a toll. Tolls can be fixed or variable.

Express Toll Lane (ETL): All passenger vehicles are allowed to utilize the lane by paying a toll. Toll can be fixed or variable. Public transit buses operate on these lanes free of charge. Trucks are not permitted.

What are Active Traffic Management Strategies (ATMS)?

Active traffic management strategies or ATMS utilizes technology to monitor changes in traffic conditions, moderate traffic flow, and provide motorists advanced information on travel conditions. ATMS technology may include adaptive ramp metering as well as dynamic lane use control, speed limits, and message signs. ATMS will be considered with all managed lane alternatives. Information such as approaching speed reductions, lane blockage, and congestion will be communicated in real time to alert motorists to upcoming travel conditions.

How would access to the managed lanes be controlled?

The most common method for managed lane facilities is a controlled access approach which means eligible vehicles can enter/exit managed lanes only in designated areas and the access locations may serve multiple interchanges. Due to the limited space along the I-55 corridor a barrier separated facility is not feasible, therefore the access locations in this alternative would be designated with pavement markings and signing.

Another option is to allow eligible vehicles continuous access to freely enter/exit managed lanes directly from general purpose lanes with no or relatively few access restrictions. This design permits weaves between the managed lanes and general purpose lanes to be more distributed, thereby reducing the effect of conflict at access openings.

The access alternatives will continue to be evaluated as managed lanes alternatives are further refined.

How effective are the managed lanes?

The use of managed lane operations through the restriction of vehicle type and or vehicle occupancy has proven to be an effective congestion management and travel reliability strategy in high volume urban corridors nationwide. These facilities dedicate lanes to the targeted users in order to achieve travel reliability and congestion relief.

Current practices have also utilized congestion pricing strategies as a tool to optimize benefits of managed lanes and support sustainable solutions. National trends show a transition from HOV lanes to HOT or ETL lanes. In addition to the conversions seen throughout the country, there is also a trend of implementing HOTs and ETLs over HOVs when new capacity is added to an existing facility as they more effectively managed congestion through the use of tolling.

How will potential increases in traffic noise be addressed?

IDOT has completed a Highway Traffic Noise Study as part of the ongoing I-55 Managed Lane study which has found noise walls to be warranted at various locations in the project study limits.  For additional information regarding the Noise Study including exhibits depicting the potential noise wall locations please click here

When is a noise analysis required?

When evaluating traffic noise, traffic noise impacts and traffic noise abatement, the process IDOT follows conforms to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) regulations, policies and procedures. Noise walls or sound barriers to abate identified traffic noise impacts are considered in the environmental analysis throughout the development of a highway project. Projects that are eligible for traffic noise abatement consideration are identified as Type I and Type II projects. A Type I Project or New Highway Project is a proposed project for the construction of a State highway on new alignment (a highway where one did not exist before), or the physical alteration of an existing State highway that significantly changes either the horizontal or the vertical alignment or increases the number of through-traffic lanes.

The Noise Policy does identify Federal or Federal-aid highway projects for noise abatement on an existing highway, which is known as a Type II or retrofit project. However, IDOT does not maintain a Type II program. With the current economic and financial situation and constraints, the Department does not have a plan, program or funding available for implementing Type II retrofits noise abatement projects. If at some future date Illinois initiates and develops a Type II program, and if funding becomes available, the consideration of cost sharing between municipalities or local government sponsors would also likely be incorporated as a major element into the program. 

Who pays for the noise walls to be constructed?

If the benefitted receptors* vote in favor of a noise wall, the standard construction cost will be borne by IDOT as part of the overall I-55 project. Non-standard features, or enhanced aesthetics, will be subject to municipal cost participation.  Individual property owners would not be asked to pay for a noise wall.

*Benefitted receptors are residents and property owners who benefit from a noise wall.

What happens if a noise abatement measure is determined to be necessary?

As established by Federal Highway Administration regulations, property owners are able to vote for or against noise walls in their area. In order for a person to be eligible to vote, the noise wall must decrease the noise level at the property by at least 5 decibels, which is a readily perceptible change in noise (typically homes within 300 feet of a noise wall). Anything less than 5 decibels is barely detectible by the human ear, therefore a noise wall would not provide any perceptible benefit.
 
If more than 50% of the votes received are in favor of a wall, a wall will likely be included in the project. A response rate of at least 33% of eligible voters is desired. If the response rate from the initial ballot mailing is less than 33%, a second ballot will be mailed for residents in those areas only to the residents and property owners who did not vote in the first round.

Voters who are in the “first row” of receptors (who share a property line with the highway) will be counted and weighed as two votes. All others will be single votes. For rental properties, each occupant will count as one vote and the owner counts as one vote per unit. A final decision on the installation of abatement measures will be made upon completion of the project’s final design and the public involvement process.

What will the noise walls look like?

The barriers are typically constructed of precast concrete panels of varying heights depending on the location.

Will planting vegetation help reduce noise levels?

Not typically. Landscaping typically needs to be up to 200 feet wide, 16-18 feet in height, and with dense undergrowth in order to be effective in reducing noise.  Such a treatment would not be prudent in the I-55 corridor.

Who can I contact about this study?

You can direct questions and comments to us via this website or send written correspondence directly to:

Illinois Department of Transportation
John Baczek
c/o Corey Smith, P.E.
Region One/District 1
201 W. Center Court
Schaumburg, IL 60196
Phone: 847.705.4073