You Can Drive 55...On the Tri-State

Widening project was completed on time, within budget

Saturday, Dec 19, 2009  |  Updated 2:02 PM CDT
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Years of 45 MPH driving on the Tri-State tollway is coming to an end.

The North and Central Tri-State Tollway rebuilding and widening project, including the entire stretch of tollway through Lake County to the Wisconsin state line, was completed Friday

With the project’s completion, construction speed limits will be removed and the original speed limits of 55 and 65 on various segments of the tollway will be restored.

Also, the new pothole-free surface, with four lanes in each direction from Wisconsin to Indiana, is not likely to need significant resurfacing work for 20 to 25 years.

"It will be a dramatic change for drivers," said tollway spokeswoman Joelle McGinnis.

Completion of the project gives commuters four lanes of road in each direction throughout the system.

McGinnis said the $3 billion project was completed on time and within budget.

The final segments of the project between Dempster Street and Lake-Cook Road and between Half Day Road and Grand Avenue were scheduled to open to four lanes in each direction by Saturday morning.

Minor punch list work is scheduled to complete sewer work and install rumble strips during off-peak hours over the next few weeks. Some weather-dependant work such as landscaping will resume in spring but will not affect traffic.

"The completion of this four-year corridor-wide project between O'Hare International Airport and the Wisconsin state line will bring real congestion relief to commuters and long-distance travelers," said Michael King, acting executive director.

"Coupled with similar improvements on the South Tri-State Tollway (I-294/I-80), drivers now have four lanes in each direction between Indiana to just south of the Wisconsin state line, reducing travel times for commuters and commercial vehicles alike."

Average daily traffic volumes along the stretch have grown from a high of about 52,000 vehicles a day in 1970 to more than 152,000 vehicles daily in 2008.

Work in the corridor began in fall 2006 in the northbound lanes between Balmoral Avenue and Dempster Street on the Central Tri-State; southbound work began in 2008.

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