Tollway launches virtual open house

Hinsdale residents can stay up to date on $4 billion project, including local impact

The Illinois Tollway has created an interactive online tool to let people know about the scope and progress of the Central Tri-State Tollway project.

The Project Virtual Open House at was recently unveiled by the agency to offer access to maps, videos, photos and other information as an alternative to traditional community meetings that have been curtailed because of the pandemic.

"Recognizing the challenges posed by COVID-19, the Tollway is opting to transition from in-person, large-group meetings to the virtual open house format offering public access to interactive content from the comfort and safety of their own homes," the Tollway states in a press release.

The Tollway says the 22-mile, $4-billion reconstruction and improvement project is necessary to provide congestion relief, improve mobility, reconstruct old infrastructure to keep pace with transportation demand and address regional needs. Video simulations on the site aim to show the positive impact of the work, with estimated travel times dropping dramatically from current levels and more driver-friendly interchanges with Interstates 88 and 290.

"In addition, the room offers traditional exhibits including an aerial corridor map that illustrates noise wall locations, proposed lane configuration and new/existing stormwater detention areas. Here visitors also can input an address within the corridor map to zoom to a specific location to see what is happening nearby," the release stated.

Hinsdale residents can see evidence of the work as crews rebuild the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway bridge over I-294 to accommodate the widening of the expressway. Two lanes are being added in both directions to the expressway section adjacent to the village, and the Tollway purchased several village properties to facilitate the expansion. A bypass bridge, or shoo-fly, will allow freight and commuter rail operations to continue during bridge reconstruction. Portions of Veeck and Peirce Parks will be closed throughout the project.

During negotiations with Tollway officials to mitigate any adverse impact from the project on the village, the Tollway agreed to accommodate soccer and Hinsdale Little League schedules at the parks and to build new sound walls before taking down the old sound walls to prevent traffic noise from affecting nearby residents. New noise walls have been installed adjacent to Peirce Park.

Brad Bloom, Hinsdale's assistant village manager and director of public safety, said the project has proceeded smoothly from the village's standpoint.

"While the village has received some inquires from residents regarding noise and other issues, the Tollway has been responsive in addressing those concerns," he said.

Bloom said the village continues to collaborate with the Tollway and Western Springs on "final design" elements and continues to monitor Tollway compliance with the intergovernmental agreement the village has with the Tollway.

Peirce Park also will benefit from the Tollway's installation of a new culvert drainage pipe, which will extend the park 53 feet to south, and the Tollway is covering the $2.1 million cost for stormwater relief work for southeast Hinsdale that has been taking place in and around Veeck Park and the Highlands Station area.

Although the Hinsdale Oasis overpass will be removed, village officials said the Tollway gave assurances that the sales tax revenue the village receives from the oasis once the project is completed will at least match current levels. The Tollway also used dirt excavated from the downtown parking deck site in its road project, saving the village the cost of disposing of the soil.

The virtual open house invites visitors to submit feedback.

"The Illinois Tollway values public input and believes that Tollway customers are best served when a variety of perspectives on the issues are shared," the release states.

Reconstruction of the BNSF bridge is scheduled to continue through 2022. The entire 22-mile project is expected to be completed by the end of 2025.

Author Bio

Ken Knutson is associate editor of The Hinsdalean