Tag Archives: IDOT

Plan to ease Eisenhower congestion calls for tolls, car pool lane

(CHICAGO) Drivers who want an express trip down the Eisenhower Expy. will have to join a carpool or pay a toll, according to the latest plans to expand and improve Chicago’s oldest and second busiest stretch of highway.

State transportation officials have unveiled a “High-Occupancy Toll” lane, in which drivers would have an average speed of 45 miles per hour — light speed compared to the current pace of traffic on the Ike (Interstate 290) during peak times, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.

The $2.7 billion plan, which is not likely to see construction begin before 2020, also would add a lane in each direction between the key bottleneck span of I-290, between Mannheim Road and Austin Boulevard.

The “HOT” lane is key to providing reliable travel times on often-stalled stretches of the expressway, said Pete Harmet, the engineer heading the Eisenhower project. The lane would be open to cars carrying three or more passengers, buses and those willing to pay tolls that would rise and fall based on rush hours.

Traffic would move 56 percent faster in the HOT lanes and shave 25 percent of travel times in the three standard lanes, Harmet said.

“One of the key points is a reliable trip, a predictable trip,” Harmet said. “Right now, sometimes it can take a long time, and sometimes it can take longer.”

Similar carpool-toll lanes have been installed in California and Florida, where riders either register their cars as carpool vehicles or use a special transponder, like an I-PASS, to assess tolls while driving. Toll revenue would go toward maintenance and improvements on I-290, which has been toll-free since it opened in the 1950s, Harmet said.

Carpool-toll lanes have been successful at relieving congestion, but they are politically volatile proposals, said Joseph Schwieterman, director of the Chaddick Center for Metropolitan Development at DePaul University.

Drivers reflexively dislike the idea of paying tolls, and they hate watching cars zip past them in carpool lanes, Schwieterman said. But they don’t realize that the prospect of paying tolls and the incentive of carpooling reduces the overall number of cars on the road — and speeds up travel for everyone.

“It’s not an easy sell, even though the congestion problems are going to get worse,” Schwieterman said.

The Eisenhower is built in a “trough” in a densely populated area, so it is difficult to see how acquiring more land to expand the expressway could be politically palatable. Solutions that have been suggested, like building a double-decker highway, are costly and won’t necessarily alleviate long-term travel concerns. Reducing the number of cars on the expressway is likely the best option, Schwieterman said.

“It amazes me that people are willing to accept a dysfunctional Eisenhower, with no real plan to improve it,” he said.

The IDOT plan also would move left-side exits at Austin and Harlem that further slow traffic. It also includes an extension of the Blue Line’s Forest Park spur to Mannheim.

IDOT will release a draft environmental impact report on Dec. 30, and will submit a final draft sometime after a 45-day period for public comments and a pair of public hearings. A combination of state and federal funding would pay the cost of the $2.7 billion project, the largest on the expressway since massive renovations to the Hillside corridor in the early 2000s.

Labor Day weekend travel forecast: sunny and heavy traffic

(CHICAGO) The upcoming Labor Day weekend is expected to be mostly sunny, and one of the most heavily traveled weekends in Chicago and surrounding areas.

The holiday weekend is expected have highs near 80 degrees, and a few chances for thunderstorms at the end of the holiday, according to the National Weather Service.

Friday and Saturday are expected to be sunny with highs near 75 degrees. Sunday and Monday are also expected to be sunny but with highs near 85 degrees. Following Labor Day, a chance of showers and thunderstorms are expected Tuesday night.

More than 1.7 million passengers are expected at O’Hare and Midway between September 1 to September 6. The busiest travel day is projected to be Thursday at Midway with 76,000 passengers and Friday at O’Hare with 251,000 passengers, according to Chicago Department of Aviation.

“This has been one of the busiest summers on record for air travel at Chicago’s airports and that trend will continue over the Labor Day holiday weekend,” said CDA Commissioner Ginger S. Evans in a statement.

Passengers traveling through Chicago airports on Friday can enjoy live entertainment in the baggage claim area at Midway and in the domestic terminals at O’Hare. Midway ambassadors will offer complimentary lemonade to passengers on Friday and Tuesday as well, according to CDA.

Nearly 55 percent of Americans say they are more likely to take a road trip this year due to lower gas prices, according to AAA. However, heading into Labor Day weekend the national average gas prices are on the rise.

The Illinois Tollway anticipates 7.8 million vehicles will travel the tollway system this holiday weekend, with the heaviest traffic on Friday. To accommodate the increase, most construction and lane closures will be restricted.

A reminder to drive sober this weekend comes from the Illinois Department of Transportation and the Illinois State Police. Last year 13 people were killed in crashes over Labor Day weekend, three of which involved drivers who tested positive for alcohol, according to IDOT.

If you’d rather not drive, Metra is offering additional early departures for nine of its 11 lines from downtown on Friday. The Metra weekend pass will include Labor Day and kids under 11 can ride for free. On Monday, Metra will operate on a Sunday/holiday schedule. However, the SouthWest Service, Heritage Corridor and North Central Service trains will not operate on Monday, according to Metra.

Additionally, this Tuesday the CTA will provide all students and accompanying adults with free bus and train rides on the first day of the CPS school year. While school is in session, the CTA will continue to offer 75 cent fares for elementary and high school students.

Motorcycle Season Shifts to Top Gear, Riders Take Steps to Ensure Safe Travel

News Release from the Illinois Department of Transportation
April 18th, 2016

(SPRINGFIELD) With spring cruising in and motorcycle season shifting into top gear, Illinois riders are eager to enjoy warm weather on the open road again. Before taking the first ride of the season, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and Illinois State Police remind motorcyclists to take necessary steps to ensure their safety and “Gear Up – Ride Smart.”

The annual campaign urges riders to take precautionary measures before getting back on their bikes. Motorcyclists are encouraged to conduct a pre-ride safety inspection of their bike and refresh their riding skills with a motorcycle training class.

Proper safety gear is essential to safe riding. Motorcyclists are encouraged to wear the right safety equipment and accessories, including high-visibility (Hi Viz) clothing, eye protection, gloves, jackets, pants, boots and a U.S. DOT-approved helmet, at all times.

“While most motorcycles are only on the road for part of the year, they account for almost 15 percent of all traffic fatalities” Illinois Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn said. “By choosing the proper safety equipment and brushing up on their skills, riders can do their part in making 2016 even safer for motorcycles on Illinois roads. The message is simple: Gear Up – Ride Smart.”

Illinois is one of two states that offer free motorcycle training classes to licensed residents. Since the Cycle Rider Safety Training Program (CRSTP) started in 1976, more than 400,000 riders have learned the basics of motorcycle riding or taken advantage of the opportunity to learn more about motorcycle safety.

The program is available throughout the state for all skill and experience levels. Classes are formulated for beginner, intermediate and advanced riders to teach them how to safely operate a motorcycle and sharpen their knowledge and riding skills. CRSTP is paid for by Illinois motorcyclists through a portion of their license and registration fees. For more information and to register in IDOT’s motorcycle safety courses, click here

“Motorcycle season is upon us, and with it comes increased need for rider safety,” said ISP Director Leo Schmitz. “Alcohol remains the number one contributing factor for motorcycle crashes. We can’t stress enough the importance of refraining from drinking alcohol when riding a motorcycle. We encourage riders to participate in a motorcycle safety refresher course, to wear high visibility clothing and a helmet. The proper mind set and the proper gear can assist in preventing a traffic crash, and it can also protect you if you are involved in one.”

Alcohol contributes to approximately 40 percent of motorcycle fatalities. The “Don’t Drink and Ride” campaign reminds motorcyclists to never mix alcohol with riding. DUI offenders are subject to penalties including fines, suspension of driving privileges and possible jail time.

Other Gear Up- Ride Smart Statistics:

* Three percent of total vehicle registrations are motorcycles, yet motorcycle fatalities account for more than 14 percent of all vehicle fatalities.
* About half of motorcycle rider fatalities occur in crashes involving just the motorcycle. About 40 percent involve motorcycle riders who had been drinking.
* Motorcycle fatalities decreased from 155 in 2013 to 119 in 2014. The number increased to 146 in 2015, according to preliminary data.
* Motorcyclists need to be properly licensed and continue training, especially after a new bike purchase.

Check out this video for useful tips on how to stay safe this riding season. To learn more about IDOT’s motorcycle safety initiative, please visit www.startseeingmotorcycles.org.

For additional riding tips, visit the Motorcycle Safety Foundation,

Bishop Ford ramp to close for weekend repairs

(CHICAGO) A ramp to the Bishop Ford Freeway from 103rd Street will be closed this weekend for repairs starting Friday night.

The ramp to the inbound Bishop Ford (I-94) will be closed until 5 a.m. Monday as crews make repairs, according to a statement from the Illinois Department of Transportation.

A posted detour will direct drivers onto the outbound Bishop Ford, and have them turn around at 115th Street, IDOT said.

Motorists should expect delays and allow extra travel time.

Roadwork to reduce Route 59 to one lane in Naperville, Aurora

(NAPERVILLE) Roadwork on Illinois Route 59 will require a major traffic pattern shift in the west suburbs starting Wednesday and lasting through September.

The new traffic pattern will be installed on northbound Route 59 in Naperville and Aurora, reducing the road to a single lane between Jefferson Avenue/Liberty Street and North Aurora Road, according to a statement form the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Southbound lanes will remain unchanged, IDOT said.

The work is intended to increase the road’s capacity, reduce the potential for crashes and relieve traffic congestion, according to IDOT. Drivers are advised to allow extra travel time for the duration of the project, which should be finished by the end of September.

Construction on Route 21 in Niles, Glenview to last until August

(NILES) Traffic on Route 21 in the northern suburbs will be reduced to one lane throughout the summer for a resurfacing project.

Route 21 will be reduced to one lane in each direction during the daytime hours between Touhy Avenue and Glenview Road, impacting drivers in Niles and Glenview, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Crews will be working on a resurfacing project, IDOT said.

Construction began Monday and will be complete by the end of August, IDOT said. Motorists can expect delays and should allow extra travel time.

© Copyright 2015 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved.

Construction begins for bridge on Illinois Route 72 near I-90

(GILBERTS) Work on the Illinois Route 72 Bridge carrying traffic over the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway in Gilberts is scheduled to begin Monday to prepare for removal and reconstruction as part of the I-90 Rebuilding and Widening Project.

The Higgins Road Bridge will remain open, the Illinois Department of Transportation said. However, the bridge will be reduced to one lane over I-90 with traffic in both directions controlled by traffic signals during construction.

About 16,000 vehicles use this bridge daily, IDOT said.

Because the Higgins Road Bridge is a two-lane bridge, only one lane will be available to traffic during construction. Traffic signals will be used to control access for eastbound and westbound traffic using the single open lane in order to keep the bridge open during construction, IDOT said.

The temporary traffic signals are scheduled to be in place by late May, and construction will start on the westbound side of the bridge with all traffic traveling on the eastbound side of the bridge. The westbound side of the bridge is scheduled to reopen by late summer, and work will begin on the eastbound side of the bridge.

The project is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2015.

© Copyright 2015 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved.

Graffiti from Kennedy Expy sign removed in quickest way possible, IDOT says

(Chicago)  Graffiti on a key inbound Kennedy Expressway sign was addressed in the quickest way possible by removing it during the morning rush hour about two hours after being notified of its existence, state transportation officials said Friday amid a flurry of complaints from commuters.

The closure of two lanes — and briefly three lanes — of traffic to remove the graffiti between 6 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. Friday caused a traffic nightmare on the Kennedy, the Sun-Times is reporting.

The morning rush on one of Chicago’s busiest expressways was reduced to a crawl, with WBBM-Radio at one point reporting a nearly two-hour trip from O’Hare to downtown. Illinois Department of Transportation officials gave a time of 138 minutes for the trip, instead of the normal 60 minutes.

IDOT spokesman Guy Tridgell said the graffiti that stretched over three lanes of traffic was reported to IDOT at 4 a.m. Friday.

Afterwards, Tridgell said, “We assessed the situation and had a crew responding to remove [it] at about 6 a.m.”

IDOT’s district operations and maintenance staff decided to remove the graffiti immediately, given that it was “obscuring an important sign in an area that people rely on as they are approaching downtown,” Tridgell said.

He did not immediately know of IDOT Director Erica Borggen signed off on the idea.

However, Tridgell said, the graffiti was in a critical spot at the Odgen Avenue overpass where traffic begins to “split in many directions.”

Asked why a temporary sign could not have been used until the morning rush ended, Tridgell said: “We took the quickest course of action, which was to remove the graffiti as quickly as possible. It was obscuring an important sign on the interstate system that people rely on.”

“We do understand this caused an inconvenience and apologize for that. This was a situation we did not create but for safety reasons, we had to address it as quickly as possible.”


© Copyright 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC