By DIANE TURNER-HURNS
Journal & Topics Reporter
A now five-year-old off-ramp on the northbound Tri-State Tollway (I-294) at Balmoral Avenue in Rosemont has more than paid for itself, village and tollway officials said.
Rosemont paid $16 million upfront to build the exit ramp, which opened in 2011. The jointly funded agreement called for the Illinois Tollway to repay the village half of that price, $8 million, over the years as tolls were collected.
“They actually paid us their half earlier,” Rosemont Finance Director Don Calmeyn told the Journal. “I believe they paid the $8 million back to us in August 2013, much earlier than expected, since the exit was doing so well, I believe.”
Tollway spokesman Dan Rozek said the tollway collected about $3.6 million in 2015 in tolls at the Balmoral exit. For 2015, the tollway collected nearly $1.2 billion in systemwide toll revenues and toll evasion recovery.
Rozek said the tollway’s $8 million share was paid in 2013, “to avoid accruing finance charges and because the revenue projections for the tolls at that exit were meeting expectations.”
The village benefits from the ramp since it takes I-294 motorists directly to local venues such as the Fashion Outlets mall, restaurants, MB Financial Park, Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, Rosemont Theatre, hotels and more.
“The new exit has made it much easier for people to make their way into the village whether they are heading to a show, convention, hotels or restaurants,” Calmeyn said. “It has been great for us.”
Rozek said the ramp construction turned into a great partnership.
“It worked out well. Everyone was eager to do it,” Rozek said. “It helps motorists, saving them time. Usually when we work with communities on this type of tollway exit the community will contribute some of the funding, usually half.”
The daily use of the Balmoral exit has skyrocketed. Rozek said in 2015, about 10,000 vehicles a day used the Balmoral Avenue exit on the Tri-State Tollway -- an increase of about 40% from 2013 when 7,000 vehicles a day used the exit.
Tolls at the exit are 80 cents for cars with I-PASS, which is a 50% discount from the non-I-PASS rate for cars, Rozek said. Tolls for trucks at the exit range from $2 to $8, depending on the size of the vehicle and the time, with trucks receiving discounts of up to 33% for using the exit at night.”
It took seven months to construct the ramp that also provides an alternate entrance to O'Hare International Airport.
“It was truly worth the investment,” Calmeyn said.