CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today launched construction on the four-year, $475 million Circle Interchange construction project in Chicago, which will create thousands of construction jobs and improve the nation’s most congested interchange. The project will start with work on the Morgan Street Bridge and encompass the bridges, roadway and drainage systems for the Dan Ryan, Eisenhower, and Kennedy Expressways and the Congress Parkway that make up the interchange.
Governor Quinn also today signed legislation to complete the third phase of the state’s record capital construction program. Today’s events are part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to create jobs and build a 21st century infrastructure system that will drive Illinois’ economy forward.
“The Circle Interchange reconstruction is the state’s biggest and one of our most important construction projects,” Governor Quinn said. “Not only will this endeavor create thousands of jobs for Illinois workers, the new Circle Interchange will help local businesses and industry move products, and drivers will reduce the time they spend in their cars each day. By making these critical improvements today, we will guarantee the interchange is a safe, efficient and modern transportation hub for generations to come.”
The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) project will reconstruct the interchange at the heart of Chicago that links the I-90/94 (Dan Ryan Expressway) to the south, I-290 (Eisenhower Expressway) to the west, Congress Parkway to the east and I-90/94 (Kennedy Expressway) to the north. According to estimates by transportation planners, the improvements will reduce traffic delays by at least 50 percent, save drivers five million hours annually and the improved traffic flow will lead to a savings of 1.6 million gallons of fuel per year.
“We are excited to begin work on this very important project, one that will keep our region and our economy moving,” IDOT Secretary Ann L. Schneider said. “More than 400,000 vehicles pass through the Circle Interchange each day, making it a vital regional and local hub for commuters, businesses and freight movement.”
"I want to commend Governor Quinn for his bold leadership and investment in rebuilding the Circle Interchange, which until now has been the worst congested freight interchange in the nation,” former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, co-chairman of Building America’s Future, said. “Investing in our roads, bridges and transit systems is critical to keeping states economically competitive. Governor Quinn’s investment of $475 million is something every Governor and Congress should follow because it will not only put thousands of men and women to work but it will give people back time in their day, improve air quality and make our nation a better place to live and work.”
The work includes providing a minimum of four lanes in each direction on I-90/94 at the I-290/Congress Parkway to correct a lane balance issue; two lanes on the “north-to-west” and “east-to north” ramps to improve safety and mobility; and local access lanes for both northbound and southbound I-90/94 to improve safety and mobility. In addition, the ramps will be reconfigured to provide safer and more efficient traffic flow. The new design incorporates aesthetic features and improves the multimodal transportation system of the surrounding street network with the inclusion of bike lanes, wider sidewalks and improved access to transit.
“Improving the Circle Interchange is the perfect complement to the Tollway's $2.2 billion project to rebuild and widen the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway from Rockford to O'Hare,” Illinois Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur said. “Together, these improvements will have a dramatic impact on this major 'jobs corridor' and enhance the movement of people and goods throughout Chicagoland and the Midwest region.”
The Circle Interchange project will utilize highly skilled workers in a variety of fields, each being paid a guaranteed prevailing wage. At Governor Quinn’s direction, it will also include a diverse workforce with a disadvantaged business participation rate of at least 16 percent for the Morgan Street portion of the project. Three trainees from the Highway Construction Careers Training Program, which improves access to highway construction training and employment opportunities for minorities, women and individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, will also be working on the Morgan Street portion.
The Circle Interchange was constructed between 1958 and 1962, and has outlived its original design life. The Federal Highway Administration and the American Transportation Research Institute identified the Circle Interchange as the number one bottleneck among highways crucial to the nation’s freight transportation system. Of the more than 400,000 vehicles that use the interchange each day, about 33,000 are trucks. The interchange experiences an average of 940 crashes per year.
In April 2012, Governor Quinn directed IDOT to begin planning for the $475 million project, and extensive public outreach has been a focal point of a comprehensive planning process.
For more information about the project, visit www.circleinterchange.org.
At today’s ceremony Governor Quinn also signed House Bill 2869 - sponsored by State Rep. Greg Harris and Senate President John Cullerton - that authorizes the third phase of the state’s record Illinois Jobs Now! capital construction program. The bill allows the state to spend the proceeds from recent and upcoming bond sales to finance $2.7 billion in additional infrastructure improvements.
Governor Quinn’s $31 billion Illinois Jobs Now! program supports more than 439,000 jobs over six years. Illinois Jobs Now! is the largest capital construction program in Illinois history, and is one of the largest capital construction programs in the nation.