I-390 Elgin-O'Hare Expy. expansion begins

A groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday signaled the start of one of the biggest road construction projects in the country.
October 29, 2013 2:58:21 PM PDT
A groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday signaled the start of one of the biggest road construction projects in the country.

The I-390 extension will provide a big economic boost to the people who live and work on the western side of O'Hare International Airport.

Rarely has the symbolic gesture of putting shovels in the dirt for a groundbreaking ceremony carried so much history. Many of those holding shovels Tuesday morning have been working on making the road a reality for several decades.

It's a long and storied history with a lot of controversy," said Dan Cronin, DuPage Co. Board chair.

In fact, when then-Governor Jim Edgar opened the six-and-a-half-mile stretch of highway called the Elgin-O'Hare Expressway almost 20 years ago, the plan was always to extend it all the way to the airport when funding was available. The project will cost $3.4 billion.

"There was a lack of consensus... what it would look like... how it would be paid for," said Kristi Lafleur, Tollway executive director.

Right now, Thorndale extends into the Elgin O'Hare. Construction could begin by the end of the week.

The project includes 17 miles of new road, extending the road from just west of Route 53 to the western edge of O'Hare with a bypass connecting the Tri-State and I-90. Political leaders say it will not only benefit commuters getting round O'Hare. But it will be a huge help for commerce in the western suburbs, leading to hundreds of millions of dollars in economic development and thousands of union jobs to build it.

"There's nothing like it being built anywhere in the country right now," said Jim Sweeney, Operating Engineers Local 150.


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