I-355 extension opens

November 28, 2007 8:20:44 AM PST
Drivers in the southwest suburbs are welcoming a new 12-mile stretch of I-355. The Veterans Memorial Tollway opened to drivers November 12.

It was smooth sailing for commuters Monday morning on the new stretch of I-355, which runs from I-55 down to I-80. The extension cuts the commute time for some of the area's fastest growing communities.

Tollway officials will be monitoring the I-355 extension for several weeks to see what the normal traffic patterns will be.

"Go up in the helicopter today with our maintenance of traffic, our chief engineer will begin to look at the roadway as a whole, look at the traffic flow at this point, look at all the interchanges, the signalization that is current on the interchanges. Then we'll go up tomorrow morning at the same time in a morning rush hour commute and also see the same thing," said Brian McPartlin, executive director Illinois Tollway.

One area they will be watching as a possible pinch point for congestion will be the interchanges at both I-55 and I-80. State police will be keeping an eye out as well.

"I'm coming from the South Side going to Naperville. I would have to go on 294 and then 55 kind of curves back, and 55 is terrible," said Leslie Boudreau, commuter.

"I think it's great because it saves me about eight to 10 miles, and that's around 15-20 minutes in traffic," said Ven Katramani, commuter.

"I just got on down at 159th Street. It looks really sweet. It's going to improve folks' trip from here to there. I hope that it will alleviate some of the congestion that's on the side streets. We'll see," said Geoff Bates, commuter.

There is new technology on the Veterans Tollway to keep trucks at their proper weight. Sensors in the pavement take readings to detect the truck's weight as well as what lane it's in. Troopers can then pull them over, double check with a portable scale and if they are in violation, issue the citation right there.

"We will be out with air speed details, motorcycle units out here as well as special enforcement teams helping to enforce the traffic laws," said Sgt. Jim Jenkner, Illinois State Police.

Another thing that could very well change the whole traffic pattern on the I-355 extension is all the expected development along the corridor.

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