Tollway project affects Hinsdale drivers

Oasis restaurants closed, traffic to go down to one lane on 47th Street over bridge

Residents who were hoping to get a slice of pizza or a burger at the Hinsdale Oasis one last time before it closed are out of luck.

After being told the portion of the oasis that extends over Interstate 294 would close at the end of the month, the date was moved up, assistant village manager Brad Bloom told The Hinsdalean.

“We were notified yesterday that the Tollway planned to close the oasis at the close of business yesterday,” he said Tuesday.

The Tollway notified the village as soon as it was made aware of the closure by MBRE, which leases and operates all the oases, according to Dan Rozek, the Toolway’s senior communications manager.

Tenants had been notified of the plan earlier and only three restaurants were still operating, Bloom said — Panda Express, McDonald’s and Sbarro.

“It was a surprise for us,” he said. “It’s kind of an end of an era. I’m glad I went up there last week to take a look at everything.”

The 7-11 and gas stations on the east and west sides of the oasis will remain open through construction.

Bloom said the village is working with the Tollway on signs that will inform drivers of opportunities to buy food and gas on Ogden Avenue in Hinsdale.

“We hope to see an increase in business due to reduced options that are available at the oasis,” he said.

Village officials also continue to discuss the redevelopment of the oasis site with Tollway representatives. Those talks are moving in a positive direction, Bloom said.

“We know that there is no longer going to be an over-the-road portion, but we want to have some restaurant offerings on both sides of the tollway,” he said.

The oasis has generated about $550,000 a year in sales tax revenue for the village, Bloom said. About half is from through the food and beverage tax at restaurants and half from the gas stations.

The Hinsdale Oasis — along with ones at Belvidere, Des Plaines, O’Hare and Lake Forest — were first built in 1959 by the Tollway and leased to Standard Oil Co. of Indiana, according to the Tollway’s website. The Fred Harvey Co. operated restaurants and gift shops in the over-the-road pavilions and Standard Oil operated fuel stations adjacent to the oases.

The DesPlaines and O’Hare facilities also were removed as part of the $4 billion Central Tri-State Tollway Project. The Tollway is reconstructing and widening the roadway between Balmoral Avenue and 95th street to provide congestion relief, update old infrastructure and address regional needs. The project is expected to be completed by May 2023.

As part of the project, the Tollway also is building a new pedestrian bridge over I-294 near 47th Street to connect Veeck Park and Spring Rock Park. Construction will affect traffic on the 47th Street bridge starting at the end of this month.

Traffic will be reduced to one lane in each direction through 2022, when the new bridge is scheduled to be completed, Rozek said.

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean