The northwest suburban village of Rosemont has always been divided by busy transportation routes that funnel people through a crossroads. Occupying the geographic center of the town is a giant interchange, where the Kennedy Expressway, the Jane Addams (Northwest) Tollway, the Tri-State Tollway, and the I-190 spur to O’Hare Airport tangle over 300 acres of land — an area larger than Grant Park and Millennium Park combined. Overhead, a steady stream of jets roar into O’Hare. CTA Blue Line trains roll down the Kennedy’s median, toward the airport or a CTA facility within the interchange.
Yet transportation is also what makes Rosemont tick. Those busy routes deliver up to 100,000 visitors a day to a village of just 4,202. Many go to work in the village’s 5.2 million square feet of high-rise offices, convenient to commuters from all four directions. Others come to sleep in its 15 airport-adjacent hotels. Still others attend events at the village’s convention center or arena, or join the merrymakers on their way to the town’s newest commercial attractions — the Fashion Outlets of Chicago shopping mall and MB Financial Park at Rosemont, an entertainment district housing an 18-screen cinema and 200,000 square feet of restaurants and bars.
All of this development might look impressive to passengers on airplanes flying into O’Hare, or for motorists speeding by on the Tri-State — but it’s far from appealing when approached on foot from the ‘L’ station. A forthcoming planning study, funded by the Regional Transportation Authority and the federal government, could change that. The study will examine access to the ‘L’ station and ponder the potential to develop the adjacent bus facility and parking lot.
The nearly two million ‘L’ passengers who arrived at Rosemont last year all stepped out from the station and into a parking lot in the middle of a cloverleaf interchange. Not only does any walk from that point require leapfrogging highways and on-ramps, but the walks are long: Five minutes from the platform doesn’t even get a pedestrian past the edge of the cloverleaf.