[Editor: This is the text of a January 26, 2017, news release from the Illinois Tollway.]
Illinois Tollway Looks Ahead to 2017
Seeks to build upon past accomplishments in sixth year of Move Illinois Program
DOWNERS GROVE, IL – The Illinois Tollway today highlighted its major goals for 2017 and how it will build upon its notable achievements in 2016 to deliver greater value to its 1.6 million daily customers and the communities throughout the 12 counties in Northern Illinois served by the Tollway system.
The Illinois Tollway enters 2017 with a balanced budget and funding commitment of nearly $1 billion to support the sixth year of its 15-year, $12 billion capital program, Move Illinois: The Illinois Tollway Driving the Future. The agency is positioned to meet goals set by the Tollway Board of Directors and Governor Bruce Rauner to continue to expand and improve the 292-mile Tollway system, deliver technological innovations, create greater opportunities for small, diverse and veteran firms and meet the needs of Illinois’ customers and communities at every turn.
“While we celebrate our past achievements, we are looking ahead to the future,” said Illinois Tollway Executive Director Greg Bedalov. “We are dedicated to being the best toll agency for our customers and communities, which means continuing to invest in infrastructure improvements, implementing cutting-edge technologies and working with firms and individuals who reflect the diversity of the communities we serve.”
“Our focus in 2017 is to continue making strategic investments that provide lasting value to our customers and tangible benefits for local communities,” said Illinois Tollway Board Chairman Bob Schillerstrom. “We will push ahead in delivering on our promises to customers and be aggressive in our efforts to maintain Illinois as a leader in the regional and national transportation network.”
In 2017, the Illinois Tollway will invest nearly $1 billion in capital improvements to deliver strategic investments in infrastructure, additional access, state-of-the art technology and improvements benefitting the diverse communities along the five roadways that make up the Illinois Tollway system.
In 2016, the Tollway completed roadway improvements as part of the $2.5 billion Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90) Rebuilding and Widening Project on time and within budget, delivering back to customers 62 miles of new roadway on I-90 from Rockford to Chicago.
This year, the Tollway is rolling out SmartRoad on a section of I-90, enhancing safety and making the roadway more efficient for customers, incorporating active traffic management and integrating Pace Bus transit stations and services within the roadway for the first time in agency history. The entire I-90 corridor will serve as a test bed for future technologies, with power and fiber built into the roadway to accommodate innovations that become available in the years ahead.
Also in 2016, the Tollway expanded its system for the first time since 2007 with the opening of the western section of the new Illinois Route 390 Tollway between U.S. Route 20 and I-290, which is also the first cashless tolling roadway on the Tollway system. The new roadway expanded the Tollway system to 292 miles from 286 miles.
In 2017, the Tollway will complete construction of the eastern section of the Illinois Route 390 Tollway to Illinois Route 83. The work will help create opportunities for new jobs and economic development, provide mobility in the region, relieve congestion and open the way for western access to O’Hare International Airport.
In 2017, the Illinois Tollway will build on the success of its diversity program – recognized for its efforts and successes in 2016 by the Illinois Black Chamber of Commerce, U.S. Minority Contractors and the Federation of Women Contractors.
In 2016, the Tollway worked in partnership with a wide variety of industry partners and advocacy agencies to build an even more robust diversity program. As a result, the Tollway has committed more than $4 million in its 2017 budget to diversity initiatives, an increase of more than 60 percent over the 2016 budget.
Funds will be used to support and expand mentoring and technical assistance programs for businesses of all types and sizes, as well as seed the development of new workforce development centers intended to create a pipeline for diverse, historically underrepresented men and women to enter the primary construction trades for Tollway and other transportation industry-related work.
The Illinois Tollway is an economic engine for the region, stimulating development and creating jobs. From 2012 through 2016, the Tollway’s capital program has created or sustained up to 49,260 jobs to support engineering and construction projects systemwide. In addition, upon completion in 2017, the new I-90 improvements and access are projected to support creation of 11,500 additional permanent jobs within the Chicago region over the years to come.
Communities throughout I-90 including Belvidere, Huntley, Hoffman Estates, Elk Grove Village and Schaumburg are welcoming the new and improved roadway in 2016 and completion of new interchange access in 2017 as a boon to economic development and job creation. In 2016, Zurich North America opened its new $300 million headquarters in Schaumburg near the new Meacham Road Interchange, bringing with it nearly 3,000 employees. And Fiat Chrysler Automobile committed $350 million to produce its top-selling Jeep Cherokee line at the Belvidere assembly plant off the Irene Road Interchange.
In 2016, Tollway Board Chairman Bob Schillerstrom started a “listening tour” with nearly 20 communities along the Central Tri-State Tollway (I-294). Local communities shared their needs for reducing congestion, accommodating the growth of freight traffic, improving stormwater management and the environment and stimulating economic development through improved access. In 2017, the Tollway will complete a master plan to serve as a roadmap for planning, design and reconstruction of I-294 from 95th Street to Balmoral Avenue.
Customer Service and Efficiencies
The Illinois Tollway makes providing value for its 1.6 million daily drivers a top priority. This includes being responsible, transparent and accountable with how customers’ toll dollars are spent.
In 2016, the Tollway launched a new state-of-the-art tolling system that is more flexible, responsive and effective in providing customers with greater functionality and more self-service options and positioning Illinois for national tolling interoperability.
The new system better manages the growing number of toll transactions on the Tollway system, which increased 5.7 percent in 2016 to approximately 932 million. The Illinois Tollway’s tolling system experiences the highest percentage of electronic toll collection in the nation among tolling systems that support both cash and electronic toll collection. Nearly 88 percent of all toll transactions in 2016 were electronic transactions from more than 5.9 million active transponders and more than 4.2 million active I-PASS accounts.
In 2017, the Tollway will leverage the capabilities of this new system to deliver greater customer service, make tolling seamless for customers from other states by working toward the goal of national interoperability and prepare to take on whatever innovations come next.
About Move Illinois
The Illinois Tollway’s 15-year, $12 billion capital program, Move Illinois: The Illinois Tollway Driving the Future, is improving mobility, relieving congestion, reducing pollution, creating as many as 120,000 jobs and linking economies throughout the region. The first five years of Move Illinois is on schedule and within budget, delivering the rebuilt and widened Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90) as a state-of-the-art 21st century corridor and opening a new interchange connecting the Tri-State Tollway (I-294) to I-57. Progress continues on projects addressing the remaining needs of the existing Tollway system, delivering the Elgin O’Hare Western Access Project and planning for emerging projects, including reconstruction of the Central Tri-State Tollway (I-294).
About the Illinois Tollway
The Illinois Tollway is a user-fee system that receives no state or federal funds for maintenance and operations. The agency maintains and operates 292 miles of interstate tollways in 12 counties in Northern Illinois, including the Reagan Memorial Tollway (I-88), the Veterans Memorial Tollway (I-355), the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90), the Tri-State Tollway (I-94/I-294/I-80) and the Illinois Route 390 Tollway.
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