New I-90 Ramp Brings Benefits to the Area
By TODD WESSELL
Journal & Topics Editor
Rosemont Mayor Brad Stephens hailed a proposal to construct an off-ramp for eastbound traffic on the Jane Addams Tollway (I-90) as being “mutually beneficial” not only for his village, but the cities of Chicago and Des Plaines.
Whether those two communities share Stephens’ enthusiasm remains to be seen. John Duddles, Des Plaines assistant director of public works and engineering, said on Monday that Des Plaines’ support is still being considered and that the final say will have to come from city council. He also said that a planned interchange expansion project at Elmhurst Road about a mile west of the proposed off-ramp at Higgins Road, will bring many benefits to Des Plaines.
“We’re looking into the advantages for Des Plaines,” said Duddles. “The Elmhurst Road project will obviously benefit us.” Those plans include allowing westbound traffic on I-90 from Elmhurst Road.
The Illinois Tollway Authority wants to construct a new off-ramp at Higgins Road and I-90 just south of where Lee Street, Higgins and Touhy Avenue intersect in Des Plaines. They anticipate the final cost to be around $15 million. The proposal is for the tollway to pay half the cost with the three towns paying the other half. Stephens said there’s been no determination how much each community will contribute.
“This project can help develop undeveloped property both in Des Plaines and Rosemont,” said Stephens. “We all share some benefit. Don’t you think that development would help Des Plaines develop their property at Mannheim and Higgins?” For more than a decade Des Plaines has been trying to develop five acres it owns near Mannheim and Higgins north of Willow-Higgins Creek. Several proposals that have included hotels, a restaurant and a large parking garage have failed to materialize.
The planned off-ramp, Duddles explained, would be located near an existing service road and Higgins Road on O’Hare Airport property that lies within Chicago. The Higgins Road bridge that currently spans I-90 will soon be rebuilt as part of a major widening of the tollway that kicks off next year. The idea is to build the off-ramp at the same time the bridge is being reconstructed.
“If we don’t get going we could lose this,” said Stephens of the off-ramp.
Duddles and Stephens said that representatives of the three communities as well as local state representatives attended recent meetings where the ramp project was discussed. Stephens said he urged those officials to explore possible ways to secure additional funding for the ramp.