New Study Shows Economic and Traffic Benefits of Chicago’s I-290 Expansion

I wrote earlier this week about Chicago’s traffic congestion woes. The city is currently the second worst for major U.S. and cities and 6th worst wordwide. Some interesting tidbits came out of that story, including the proposed expansions of I-290 and I-55 discussed by the Illinois Department of Transportation head. According to the site Roads & Bridges, a recent study for the 290 expansion would benefit Chicago drastically both economically and in traffic congestion.

The Illinois Economic Policy Institute (ILEPI) just released a study stating that the $2.7 billion project, which combines both transit and pedestrian improvements alongside bridge and roadway upgrades, is projected by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) to provide amongst the best economic, equity, and traffic impacts of any project in the region by 2050 “The I-290 corridor is vital multi-modal infrastructure that’s needed to connect the western suburbs and southern Cook County with the City of Chicago, but it has far exceeded its design life and become one of the most congested and dangerous thoroughfares in the region,” stated ILEPI Transportation Director and study author Mary Tyler. “That said, its proposed modernization represents one of the region’s greatest opportunities to create jobs, reduce traffic burdens, and alleviate the economic access burdens facing disadvantaged communities.”

The proposed I-290 reconstruction project incorporates not only bridge and highway upgrades—including a new High Occupancy Toll lane (HOT3+) to support Express Bus service and promote carpooling—but also wider sidewalks, pedestrian safety islands, high visibility crosswalks, lighting, and signals to better facilitate pedestrian/bicycle traffic and transit riders.

A concurrent CTA project would upgrade Blue Line facilities, including reconstruction of the entire Forest Park Branch as well as stations from UIC-Halsted to Forest Park and six substations. 

The study examined the potential overall economic impact of the project, concluding that it would create nearly 22,000 new jobs paying an average of almost $80,000 per year, while growing the economy by more than $2.6 billion and boosting local, state, and federal tax revenues by more than $450 million.

What’s not to like about this project? It would hopefully finally start to free up one of the tightest and slowest commutes in and out of the city to the western suburbs (I-290) and create thousands of well paying jobs. The reporting has not said exactly where the funding will come from, but I would make a strong guess that Illinois’ portion from the recent $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill would be earmarked for this project.

If you or a loved one have been seriously injured in a Chicago car crash or Chicago truck accident, then please call the Chicago injury attorneys at The Bryant Law Group for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.