Update on the Eisenhower Expansion Plan

Last week, IDOT held a public meeting to discuss plans for the expansion of the Eisenhower. Rick Kuner from the Citizens for Appropriate Transportation provided the update message below. If you're against the plan, it sounds like now is the time to make your voice heard:

Dear Friends and Neighbors, As you probably know, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) is once again considering widening the Eisenhower Expressway between Cicero Avenue and Manheim Road. Many of you attended the public meeting on this project last week - thank you.
Please tell the IDOT that you oppose plans to bring more cars, more noise,
and more air pollution to our communities. Public comments can be submitted
online at http://www.eisenhowerexpressway.com/informed.

Points you may wish to make in your comments:

.Adding lanes won't reduce traffic congestion. Illinois spent $140 million
to fix the Hillside Strangler, yet travel time remained virtually unchanged.
.If we were to build all the lanes traffic engineers say is necessary to
"solve" congestion, the Ike would be 12-14 lanes wide. Clearly we aren't
going to do that, so let's find a better solution BEFORE we expand the Ike.
.More highway lanes means more cars, more noise, more air pollution,
property acquisition, and more global warming pollution.
.Extending the CTA Blue Line to Hillside is a better solution. It would
increase mobility, solve congestion problems, and improve our communities.

Please submit your comments before December 3 so they are part of the
official record.

Please also pass this e-mail along to friends, family, and neighbors so that
IDOT is flooded with comments opposing their plans to widen the Ike! For
more information, and to sign up for regular updates on the state's efforts
to expand the Ike, please visit

Wow. Would it really take a 12-14 lane highway to solve our congestion woes? It sounds like folks need to get out of their cars. I wonder how likely it would be for the CTA to extend the Blue Line further west?

What do you think of these latest points against the expansion of I-290?

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Comment by yooj on November 25, 2009 at 1:50pm
I was recently in the UK and they've imposed a fee, (I think it was 20 pounds) for any vehicle driving into London, with the exception of cabs and buses. They use traffic cameras which take pictures of license plates, to enforce the fee. According to my friends there, the effect was immediate. On the day the fee went into effect, they said it was like stepping back in time to the 1940's.

It may sound drastic but I think along with extending the blue line, Chicago needs to implement something similar. If people had to spend $40 just to drive into The Loop, plus parking, we would begin making tough decisions that we currently just don't consider. The net effect would probably be a reduction in cars on the road, pollution as well as urban sprawl. Prices of housing closer to the city would probably go up since folks who work downtown would want to live closer, but there would also be increased pressure to expand public transportation as well.
Comment by Aaron Andersen on November 24, 2009 at 11:02pm
People make decisions on how to commute based on a varied and complex set of preferences that add up to their level of relative satisfaction with their choice, as compared to the alternatives. One must assume there is some level of equilibrium at play. Even if you could reduce congestion on 290, this will simply make it more desirable to drive on 290, so more people will (and there will be more development further out west) so congestion will rise back to a similar level at equilibrium.

If you want less congestion on 290, you actually have to make it worse, with tolls or other expensive obstacles, or perhaps more reeking landfills, so that the alternatives look better by comparison. Or, in a more positive light, you could simply improve the alternatives, like so many in the comments have recommended. That's probably a better idea. :)
Comment by Bob Simpson on November 24, 2009 at 1:20pm
In this age of global warming, why on god's green earth would we want to encourage more car traffic?
Comment by Rob on November 24, 2009 at 1:12pm
Don't buy the argument that adding lanes through Oak Park will solve the problems on I-290. The Hillside Strangler was supposed to do the same thing, but after $140M, it did nothing but consume scarce transportation funding. In order to reduce congestion, we need to get people out of their cars. Studies have shown that people traveling the I-290 corridor will use transit if a high quality (reliable, affordable, and reasoanbly direct) alternative exists. The problem is one of accessibility, not one of highway demand exceeding capacity, as the IDOT (and others) would have you believe. Want increased safety (fewer highway accidents and deaths)? Want reduced GHG and toxic tailpipie emmissions? Want enhanced national security through decreased reliance on foreing energy sources? If so, propoerly identify the problem and then advocate for the best solution (rail extension to Oak Brook area, perhaps combined with congestion pricing (tolls) on all lanes of I-290 in order to encrourage even more people to use rail, while at the same time developing a much needed resource to supplement funding for *both* highway and transit operations in the corridor. The federal highway fund is going broke and the fix will undoubtedly be more highway user fees (higher gas tax or fee for each mile you drive annually above and beyond gas tax). Highway remain important, but don't let that cloud the discussion of how best to mee the needs of this heavily congested urban corridor. Be sure to present your written comments and concerns to the Illinois Department of Transportation before December 3rd. http://www.eisenhowerexpressway.com/informed
Comment by pixelmixel on November 24, 2009 at 12:09pm
In the past 20 years, a lot of working class and low income people have moved out of the city to the collar suburbs - mostly due to gentrification. Extending the blue line further west would be great for those who don't own a car and struggle with the bus system, and for commuters who WOULD use the train if it was convenient - it is currently such a pain to get to the train in Forest Park or Oak Park - fighting the Hillside Stranger! - during rush hour!

Comment by Hank Marquardt on November 24, 2009 at 11:43am
I have to say that both sides are probably right.

It would take 6 lanes each direction to actually *solve* the problem ... but a lot of folks would be quite happy with making it *better* by just getting to 4 each direction through the problem area.

Extending the blue line to Hillside doesn't solve the problem I think that drives this ... Cook/DuPage Commuting (that's me) and all the feeders coming in 88, 294 and the 290 extension ...

Yes it will bring more traffic as people that have choice will pick the faster routes.

I'm all for more/better public transit, but I really don't see avoiding Ike expansion to a consistent width from downtown to Hillside.

Comment by Russ M on November 24, 2009 at 10:30am
I would be surprised if the western burbs want the EL... I mean where exactly would it go? Unless it is s a town like Oak Park, it still doesnt solve the last mile problem that most suburbs have. I don't think most people driving are coming from that close in.
Comment by John Metzger on November 24, 2009 at 10:19am
Here's the thing: If you widen the Eisenhower, you just get more cars using it. So then you need to widen it again. It's a never-ending cyclical problem. A better option is to invest in some serious public transit improvements. I wasn't really looking forward to the city being turned upside-down by the Olympics, but the one thing for which I did hope, if Chicago had landed them, is that they'd have the money to make some significant investments in the public transit system.


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