Planning Begins on I-55 Interchange Projects
IDOT seeks public input during a public meeting at Romeoville’s village hall.
Traffic congestion: It’s a problem shared by most Will County communities.
Two new interchanges along I-55—one at Airport Road and one at Route 126/Essington Road—could help alleviate that problem for drivers in Romeoville, Bolingbrook and Plainfield, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation.
But it won’t happen quickly. According to IDOT, it could take more than 36 months to complete the three-phase project. But it’s been in the works much longer than that.
“This has probably been a project that’s over 10 years (in the making),” Romeoville Mayor John Noak said, adding Bolingbrook and Romeoville have taken the lead in working with IDOT to move it along.
“Over the last few years, we’ve been aggressively working on the project,” he said.
What's being proposed
The first phase, including preliminary engineering and an environmental study, is expected to cost around $2.6 million. Federal funding will pay for 80 percent of that, Noak said. Of the remaining $520,000, Romeoville is pitching in about $239,200, with Bolingbrook paying a $280,800 share.
“The next job would be to find funding (for phases II and III),” said IDOT Area Programmer Sue Palmer. “We have more identified projects than funding, so getting phase I approval is an important first step.”
“Our goal is to make this a shovel-ready project,” so it can move forward as soon as funding is available, he said.
The area being studied includes 3.5 miles of I-55 from about a half-mile south of Airport Road to one mile north of Route 126/Lockport Road. That includes all of Route 126 south of I-55, a 4,500-foot section of 135th Street east and west of Essington and 3,5000 feet of Essington north of Route 126.
The Airport/Lockport Road study area includes the span over I-55 and frontage roads, according to IDOT.
“We’re here because we see a problem”
Since the mid-1980s, population and commercial growth has caused traffic volumes to double—and in some cases, triple—along sections of I-55, according to IDOT.
According to the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP), that growth is expected to continue, despite the continued economic downtown. In Romeoville, where access to I-55 is limited to the already congested Weber Road interchange, residential, commercial and industrial development is expected to increase the population by 46 percent and employment by 76 percent by 2040.
Similar growth will affect traffic in Bolingbrook and Plainfield, according to CMAP. Bolingbrook, with I-55 access at the Weber Road and Route 53 interchanges, is projected to see a 53 percent population increase and 29 percent employment growth over the next 30 years.
Plainfield, which has access to northbound I-55 from the Route 126 partial interchange and southbound I-55 through the Weber and U.S. 30 interchanges, is predicted to see a 119 percent population growth and 66 percent job growth by 2040.
But the interchange projects are aimed at alleviating traffic issues caused by development that’s already here, according to IDOT Consultant Studies Unit Head Steve Schilke.
“We’re more reactive to development,” he said. “We’re here today because we see a problem.”
IDOT to residents: Speak up
Residents who attended a Feb. 22 meeting at Romeoville's village hall were asked to submit their comments, as well as a community context audit.
“This is the first of a series of public meetings,” Schilke said. “The purpose is to hear the concerns and issues of all the stakeholders in the area … the usual suspects being traffic, congestion and the amount of development.”
If you missed the meeting, you can still have your say. Comment forms and information on the study are available online at www.airportand126study.com. Community context forms must be submitted by March 8 to be a part of the IDOT study.
Comments can also be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or sent to:
Attn: Dave Heslinga, P.E.
Director of Transportation & Municipal Engineering
7325 Janes Ave.
Woodridge, IL 60517