Western Springs couple says new Tri-State Tollway wall will block crucial light from yard

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ByEric Horng via WLS logo
Thursday, September 1, 2022
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A couple in Western Springs said the new Tri-State Tollway/Ogden interchange work will demolish the zen they've made at their home.

WESTERN SPRINGS, Ill. (WLS) -- A couple in Western Springs said a quarter century of work to make their home a slice of zen will be destroyed when the current Ogden Avenue exit wall is demolished and a new, taller wall built.

The couple said they were given 48 hours notice ahead of the wall's scheduled demolition, and their appeal for adjustments to it have been ignored.

In the shadow of the Tri-State Tollway/Ogden interchange, on the other side of a 20 foot wall, sits John and Alex Rimmele's patch of zen.

"We've worked really, really hard on our landscaping and keeping it nice and quiet and a little bit of a refuge," Alex Rimmele said.

But that will all change Thursday, they said, when the barrier - which they adorned with ivy - is scheduled to be demolished to eventually make way for a new wall.

"It's going to block a lot of our light coming in," John Rimmele said. "I mean, we knew again that we would never see sunsets here, but we never expected we wouldn't see sunsets over there."

The project is related to the Illinois Tollway's rework of the I-294/Ogden interchange, and part of a $4 billion modernization of I-294.

The agency said in a statement the wall "will provide the maximum reduction of vehicle noise to residents living not just in the homes bordering Tollway property, but also to their neighbors in that area."

They added, "The Tollway has worked extensively with this neighborhood since 2017 to address concerns."

The Rimmeles said they had one meeting with a Tollway and Village of Western Springs official, during which they appealed for the new wall to be built a few feet closer to the tollway.

"They're getting rid of the cloverleaf. The wall has a lot of room to move," John Rimmele said.

But that request was apparently denied, and now a years-old treehouse that overlooks the wall could be in jeopardy.

"I worry about the actual integrity of the tree once they start cutting down branches and doing a lot of work," Alex Rimmele said.

The Illinois Tollway says after the current wall is demolished, the new one will be built "by the end of the year", meaning the Rimmele's home could be without a sound barrier for months.

Full statement from the Illinois Tollway

In all instances, the Tollway works to maximize the benefit of noise walls to all area residents, and homeowners typically request noisewalls to reduce traffic noise.In this area, the Tollway has worked extensively with this neighborhood since 2017 to address concerns regarding the agency's $4 billion Central Tri-State Tollway (I-294) reconstruction project.The replacement noisewall in this area will be constructed in the exact same location at a height consistent with the existing wall. but will no longer taper down at the end, which will provide the maximum reduction of vehicle noise to residents living not just in the homes bordering Tollway property, but also to their neighbors in that area.In addition, the Tollway has both delayed the removal of the existing wall, and expedited the construction of the replacement wall to minimize the duration of time homeowners are without the walls. The new noisewall is expected to be completed by the end of the year, so it will be in place to reduce construction noise when mainline work on the I-294 project begins late this year.In addition, as part of the I-294 reconstruction, the ramp from northbound I-294 to eastbound Ogden Avenue will be reconfigured and moved more than 30 feet away from its current position, which also will benefit neighborhood residents.