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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 5, 2006

Tollway opens fourth lane on key section of Reagan Memorial Tollway (I-88); wider road will reduce congestion and provide faster commute for motorists
Rebuild and widen project from IL Route 59 to Washington Street is almost complete

NAPERVILLE – Building on his commitment to significantly reduce travel times and improve driving conditions for motorists using the state’s roads, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced the opening of an additional lane in the now rebuilt segment of road previously known as the “washboard” on the Reagan Memorial Tollway (I-88) from IL Route 59 to Washington Street, in Chicago’s western suburbs.  This 5-mile segment now provides a faster and smoother ride for 140,000 daily motorists. This two-year, rebuild and widen project was completed on time and on budget and is now providing four new lanes in each direction.
 
“For thousands of drivers in Chicago’s westerns suburbs, the ride on I-88 will now be faster and much less stressful. Rebuilding and widening the ‘washboard’ on I-88 will also save motorists time on their commutes so they have more time to spend with their families and doing what they enjoy,” said Gov. Blagojevich.
 
The only work remaining is the completion of striping and installation of reflective pavement markers, which has been postponed due to wet weather.  This work will be completed with off-peak lane closures as soon as weather permits. 
 
Rebuilding and widening this 5-mile section of the Reagan Memorial Tollway (I-88) is part of the Governor’s 10-year, $5.3 billion Congestion-Relief Plan, Open Roads for a Faster Future, which will significantly reduce travel times by rebuilding/restoring 90 percent of the system, widening/adding lanes to nearly half the system – 117 miles of existing roads, converting 20 mainline toll plazas to barrier-free Open Road Tolling, and extending I-355 south to I-80 in Will County. Open Road Tolling lanes are now available at nine mainline toll plazas with the remaining plazas to be converted for non-stop tolling in 2006.
 
Rebuilding this section of the roadway addresses the premature deterioration of an overlay resulting from poor ground conditions and experimental pavement techniques, resulting in a bumpy ride reminiscent of a washboard.  Some of the new improvements drivers will now enjoy include:
 
Ø      Three lanes in each direction were removed and replaced, adding a fourth lane in each direction using 12-inches of Continuously-Reinforced Concrete to provide longer-term life of the pavement
Ø      Ramp improvements at IL Route 59, including the addition of a westbound auxiliary exit lane to prevent backups on the mainline
Ø      Additional storm water storage
Ø      Installation of roadway lighting and an enclosed drainage system
 
The project also included the reconstruction of the Mill Street Bridge over the Tollway to accommodate the fourth lane in each direction.  The bridge was completed in record time through cooperation between the Illinois Tollway, DuPage County and Naperville officials.  Construction began in April and was completed by mid-August 2005.
 
Significant cost and time savings were realized by expanding from the originally planned rebuild project to a rebuild and widen project after the Congestion-Relief Plan was passed last year, so traffic would not be impacted twice in the same section. 
 
“This project is a great example of how the Tollway is making the adjustments needed to deliver congestion relief as quickly as possible while at the same time minimizing the impact of construction on our customers,” said Tollway Executive Director Jack Hartman.
 
Under the Congestion –Relief Plan, an additional 14 miles of pavement on the Reagan Memorial Tollway will be rebuilt and widened from I-290 to Naperville Road.  Work begins this year on a project to rebuild and widen to four lanes the section just to the east of the now complete segment from Washington Street to Finley Road.  
 
The Tollway has been working hard to minimize the impact of construction by maintaining the same number of lanes during construction whenever possible, sending alerts to media about temporary lane closures (usually scheduled off-peak), and providing construction and traffic information to the public through the following mechanisms:
 

· Website, www.illinoistollway.com – Construction Section – for details by road & lane closures
· 1-800-TOLL-FYI – information on any lane closures (attempt to maintain same number of lanes during construction except for temporary, usually off-peak lane closures)
· Roadway & overhead signs, including Dynamic Message Signs
· Tollway eNewsletter – sign up at www.illinoistollway.com
 
The Illinois Tollway maintains and operates 274 miles of interstate tollways in 12 counties in Northern Illinois, including the Ronald Reagan Memorial Tollway (I-88), the North-South Tollway (I-355), the Northwest Tollway (I-90) and the Tri-State Tollway (I-94, I-294, I-80/I-294).


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