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October 24, 2001

Hillside Strangler Relief is Here
Congestion Relief, Safety Improvements and Economic Boost Arrive Ahead of Schedule

CHICAGO -- Governor George H. Ryan today kicked off the opening of the new Hillside Interchange, delivering on his pledge to eliminate the Hillside Strangler, the worst traffic snarl in the state and one of the 20 worst congestion points in the country.

"The Hillside Strangler has been a source of headaches for motorist for years," Governor Ryan said. "When I was running for Governor I promised I would fix this and today I'm delighted to say we are getting the job done."

The American Highway Users Federation study last year estimated that Chicago area residents and commuters will reap nearly $4 billion in economic benefits from fewer traffic accidents, time savings and fuel savings.

"The Hillside project is an investment in our future that was made possible only because of the Illinois FIRST program," Governor Ryan added. "Illinois FIRST is rebuilding this state's infrastructure--here in Northern Illinois it is fixing the Hillside Strangler and rehabilitating Chicago's Wacker Drive. For a modest investment, we've saved motorists hundreds of dollars a year, not to mention headaches and frustration.

"At a time when we need to boost our economy," Governor Ryan said, "Illinois FIRST road construction projects are providing an additional 89,000 jobs in the private-sector construction industry."

The $97.5 million construction project was designed to unsnarl the roadways where the East-West Tollway (I-88) and ramps from the Tri-State Tollway (I-294) and Roosevelt Road (Illinois 38) all converged into just one lane to the Eisenhower Expressway (I-290).

By adding additional access lanes, the project will eliminate the existing problem of traffic from the tollways merging from the left onto the Eisenhower and then weaving across three lanes of the Eisenhower to exit immediately at Mannheim Road.

The new configuration also directs thousands of slower moving vehicles away from the main traffic flow along I-88 at Mannheim Road.

From design of the roadway through construction, the project has taken less than three years. Normally, a project of this scope requires four to six years or more.

In addition to completing the project in record time, major safety and traffic enhancement features were incorporated into the new roadway. They are:

  • Reconstructing of bridges to ease traffic flow. The new bridges include Mannheim Road over I-290; Westchester Boulevard over I-290; Darmstadt Road over I-88. A new span was built for the Illinois Central railroad bridge over I-88 to make room for additional lanes. This eases congestion for drivers entering and exiting at Mannheim without interfering with main line traffic on the inbound Eisenhower Expressway.

  • Widening the bridge carrying I-290 over I-88. Improved ramps to access I-290 and widened median shoulders on westbound I-290 between Mannheim Road and I-88.

  • Improving roadway lighting with new high-mast towers to provide more consistent lighting through the area.

  • Installing a new concrete barrier wall separating the main traffic lanes from the traffic accessing the local area. This increases safety and reduces congestion through the merge with the Eisenhower Expressway.

  • Installing a new changeable message sign on the Roosevelt Road ramp to I-290 to provide better traffic information.

In order to complete the work as soon as possible, the contract called for an incentive payment for early completion of $20,000 per day up to a maximum of 30 days. The penalty for failing to complete the project by November 15 was also $20,000 per day with no maximum limit.

The prime contractors for the project were Walsh Construction of Illinois, Chicago; Ganna Construction; Addison; Paschen-Nielsen, Des Plaines, and Divane Brothers Electric Co., Franklin Park.


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