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This allows the project to continue to Phase II Final Design and Contract Plan Preparation. The Illinois Department of Transportation (Department) completed preliminary engineering and environmental studies (Phase I) for the improvement of I-55 from Interstate 355 (I-355) to Interstate 90/94 (I-90/94). The improvement consists of the addition of one lane along I-55 in each direction between I-355 and east of Interstate 294 (I-294) and two lanes in each direction from east of I-294 to I-90/94, the most congested portion of the I-55 corridor. These improvements will address the projected congestion through 2050. Environmental approval was received by the Federal Highway Administration in December 2018. A previous Phase I study was completed in November 2016 for one managed lane in each direction.
The study evaluated multiple alternatives for this corridor and Express Toll Lanes (ETL) showed the best improvement for traffic flow and congestion relief. The existing travel lanes along I-55 will remain free, but the new lanes are proposed to be managed as express toll lanes (ETL) with dynamic pricing to provide travel choices within the corridor. The addition of the ETL within the existing median will provide options to adapt to frequently changing traffic conditions across all lanes and provide a sustainable transportation solution. The addition of the ETL would also increase the capacity of the overall roadway. As a result, the existing travel (free) lanes would also experience reduced congestion.
A new noise study was completed that identified two new walls subject to the voting process in addition to the 12 previously approved walls. In 2016, a noise analysis found that nearly 12 miles of noise walls meet IDOT criteria. A viewpoint solicitation was conducted for each receptor "benefited" by a noise wall to vote in favor of or opposed to the wall. This vote resulted in 12 of the 13 potential noise walls receiving a majority vote in favor of construction. A new noise study was completed for the current study. This study did not remove any previously approved walls and two additional walls met criteria and are recommended to be included in the project subject to voting during the next phase. Traditionally, noise walls are installed following highway construction and installation is typically completed in one construction season.
To read the noise report click here.
To see detailed exhibits of the noise wall location click here.