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Circle Interchange reconstruction focus of public hearing

April 3, 2013 8:21:15 PM PDT
Help may finally be on the way for drivers who have to navigate what's known as the Spaghetti Bowl, officially called the Circle Interchange.

No matter what you call it, it is one of the worst traffic bottlenecks in the country.

Wednesday afternoon, people got a chance to check out some of the plans to fix it.

A public hearing was held to present the preferred plan for the makeover.

It was designed and built nearly 60 years ago. The Circle Interchange connects the major expressways in Chicago, I-90/94 to the north and south, with I-290 east and west along with Congress Drive into the Loop.

With about 400,000 cars a trucks a day, it is busy, congested and dangerous, averaging almost three accidents a day.

"It is one of the worst bottlenecks in the country," said Steve Schilke, IDOT project manager. "According to American Transportation Research Institute, along with FHWA (Federal Highway Administration), Circle Interchange is the most congested highway in the nation."

The Illinois Department of Transportation is looking at several plans for the redesign project and they're getting input from residents at Wednesday afternoon's meeting.

Several people living in the Green Street Lofts say IDOT's preferred design would add a ramp from I-90/94 to the westbound Eisenhower that would be very close to their building and right outside Stacey Simmon's bedroom window.

"I'm concerned about the property value plummeting, which would not only affect me, but also the other 58 families that live in this wonderful building right now," Simmons said.

"It's so close to the building that between the noise, the extra pollution, the safety factors, it's mindboggling that this would happen," David Lewis, condo board president.

IDOT officials say noting is final, construction is still several years away, but they are anxious to move forward with planning to determine a design that works for everyone.

"We go to a public hearing, we hear input, we slowly modify," said Schilke. "Some of the plans we've modified just with recent input just a couple of weeks ago and we'll continue to modify these plans to really make it the best plan for the communities and the areas around it."

The project will cost about $420 million and will take about four years to complete once the plan is finalized.


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