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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 2, 1999

FAST-TRACK CONSTRUCTION PLAN TO UNTANGLE 'HILLSIDE STRANGLER'

CHICAGO - Gov. George H. Ryan today unveiled a fast-track road construction plan that will untangle the so-called "Hillside Strangler" within three years to dramatically cut travel time and improve traffic safety where the East-West Tollway and the Tri-State Tollway converge with the Eisenhower Expressway in western Cook County.

"The need to untangle the Hillside Strangler is among the most pressing highway concerns we face in Illinois," Ryan said. "The construction of additional access lanes and other safety and operational improvements will significantly shorten travel times and improve traffic safety through this interchange and onto the Eisenhower Expressway into Chicago.

"I have directed the Illinois Department of Transportation to place this construction project on the fastest track possible. It will be completed by the end of 2001, ensuring that the Hillside Strangler will be known only as a problem of a previous century."

The project will provide additional, separate access lanes for slower-moving vehicles and for other traffic exiting from the Eisenhower and from the East-West to the Mannheim Road interchange.

The added access lanes will:

-Eliminate the existing problem of traffic from the tollways merging from the left onto the Eisenhower and then weaving across three lanes of the Eisenhower to exit immediately at Mannheim Road.

-Direct thousands of slower moving and exiting vehicles away from the main traffic flow along the East-West to the Eisenhower.

-Clear the way for through-traffic from the East-West and the Tri-State to travel more quickly and safely onto the Eisenhower through the Mannheim Road exchange.

-The project also calls for improvements along Mannheim and Roosevelt roads, and will add an access lane along the Tri-State between Mannheim Road and 25th Avenue.

"By providing separated lanes and easier access for the vast majority of heavy trucks and other traffic bound for Mannheim Road, we will neutralize the Strangler and its inherent safety problems, and significantly shorten travel times through the area," said Secretary of Transportation Kirk Brown.

"Today it may take 20 minutes or more to get from the York Road Toll Plaza onto the Eisenhower Expressway. After the improvement, it is estimated that travel time will be 3 or 4 minutes to get on the Eisenhower from the toll plaza barring traffic incidents or bad weather," Brown added. "Once we complete this project, traffic incidents also should be significantly reduced."

The estimated cost of the project is about $65 million. The Illinois Department of Transportation has already begun the preliminary engineering phase.

A public meeting will be held in Hillside on Tuesday Feb. 23. Right-of-way purchases and utility adjustments are expected to be completed in approximately a year on the fast-track schedule.

Construction contracts will be competitively bid beginning in the spring of 2000. Construction projects scheduled to begin in the spring and summer of 2000 include interchange improvements at Mannheim and the Tri-State, and the widening of Roosevelt Road. Construction of additional access lanes from the East-West to the Mannheim interchange will begin in the fall of 2000. The project is scheduled to be open to traffic by the end of 2001.


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