Lawmakers, labor and business leaders call for $2.7 Eisenhower Expressway rebuild

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eisenhower expressway
Daniel Schwen, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Lawmakers, labor and business leaders gathered for a Nov. 16 news conference, seeking federal money to rebuild the Eisenhower Expressway, one of the Chicagoland area’s most congested roadways.

The proposed project to rebuild the 1950s-era roadway would cost $2.7 billion, WLS-TV reported. It would include improvements to aging bridges, the CTA Blue Line (which runs down the middle of the road), and would add a fourth lane of traffic west of Austin Boulevard to alleviate bottleneck. One lane could be reserved for carpooling.

Legislative leaders, Chicago Transportation Commissioner Gia Biagi and top labor officials held the press conference to encourage funding for reconstruction of I-290 from the Jane Byrne Interchange to Hillside.

Crain’s Chicago Business said notice of the event came from a spokesman for IUOE Local 150, a union representing operating engineers with considerable Springfield influence.

The Ike was built to handle 40,000 vehicles a day, and had an expected lifespan of 50 years. It is now 70-years-old, and traffic averages 200,000.

At the downtown gathering of local leaders and elected officials, House Speaker Chris Welch was late because of traffic on the expressway. “We love the Ike, but the Ike don’t love us,” Welch said. “This interstate is among the most congested in the nation.”

The proposed project does not have a funding source, and leaders say it can’t be done without a major investment of federal dollars, which may now be possible through the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill.

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