The proposed expansion of the I-290 Eisenhower Expressway received approval from the U.S. Department of Transportation, but the $2.7 billion project has yet to receive funding, according to a July 28 press release from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT).

Guy Tridgell, a spokesman for IDOT, said in a telephone interview that the approval is for phase 1 of the project, which entails planning and establishing a preferred alternative for construction.

“Phase 2 is final engineering and takes us all the way up to final construction,” he said.

The project includes establishment of managed lanes — a toll road in each direction between Mannheim Road and Racine Avenue — and transit improvements that aim to reduce congestion, according to IDOT.

“The next phase of improvements on the Ike will be another step to strengthening the state’s position as the transportation hub of North America,” Illinois Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn said in the press release. “This project will improve safety and mobility throughout the region while creating economic opportunity for generations to come.”

IDOT says the project also will include “additional transit options, expanded linkages between Pace and the Chicago Transit Authority, as well as pedestrian and bicyclist enhancements, to better connect communities and create a true multimodal corridor.”

The department conducted more than 150 small group meetings in communities along the corridor, including Oak Park.

The Oak Park Board of Trustees spent much of last year meeting with IDOT officials and holding public meetings on the project, addressing issues such as noise canceling walls along the access roads adjacent to the highway.

The state will pursue “all potential funding opportunities” including potential public-private partnerships, it said in the press release.

No meetings are yet scheduled as IDOT enters into phase 2 of the project, but Tridgell said the transportation department is “committed to working with all stakeholders along the route.”

The state notes that the highway, built in the late 1950s and early 1960s, has much of its original infrastructure and accommodates more than double the 100,000 vehicles for which it was designed.

CONTACT: tim@oakpark.com

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