Tomorrow’s the Last Day to Comment on IDOT’s Circle Interchange Expansion

Concerned citizens at the Circle Interchange public meeting
Talking to an IDOT project staffer (left) at a Circle Interchange public meeting.

Tomorrow is the final day to enter a comment into public record about the Illinois Department of Transportation’s Circle Interchange expansion project. Here’s a quick rundown of what can realistically be influenced at this point:

It goes without saying that the project’s elevated highway ramps, or flyovers, will be an aesthetic blight and a detriment to the pedestrian experience. Flyovers are dark, dirty, and feel unsafe. They also cost a lot to maintain.

IDOT’s “preferred alternative,” known as 7.1C, puts an overpass above Halsted Street and within 22 feet of the apartment building at 400 S Green Street (note that this is 15 feet further away from the building than in IDOT’s previous proposal). Another option IDOT is considering would put the same ramp under Halsted Street, at the same level as existing lanes. According to IDOT documents, one reason the agency doesn’t favor this option is because drivers would be merging into I-290 at a maximum speed of 40 mph, not 55 mph; another reason is that it will cost $8 million more and require more closures during construction.

To comment on the project, you can email Steve SchilkePaul Schneider, or Ann Schneider at IDOT. You can also call Ann Schneider at (217) 782-5597, or send a comment to:

Steve Schilke c/o Paul Schneider
Illinois Department of Transportation Bureau of Programming
201 W. Center Court
Schaumburg, IL 60196

There’s also the option to leave a comment online, though this seems less certain to reach the intended recipient.

  • Joseph Musco

    I emailed them. Thanks for your leadership on this issue.

  • Scott Sanderson

    I called the number listed above and asked for Ann Schneider. I was rather tersely told that my comment should be directed to the local office, and I ended up speaking with Steve Shelly at (847) 705-4125. We discussed the project for about 10 minutes, and he told me IDOT will formulate a response to my comment, which I will post here if they send it to me. He was very receptive to my comment, and assured me that IDOT is trying to implement the city’s plans for cyclist and pedestrians. He also urged me to give feedback to them in the future as they unveil more detailed plans. (My specific comment was that they had characterized a drawing of the street as “bike friendly” because there was a stripe of paint for a bike lane, and I gave my opinion that simply drawing a line to make a narrow lane in the door zone is not so friendly).

  • Fred

    I have been wondering for awhile now if IDOT is going about this whole project the wrong way. The stated problem is that this clustermess is one of the worst freight bottlenecks in the country. So their solution is to increase capacity for all users to save everyone a few seconds while passing through. Why are they not concentrating on methods to speed up the flow of freight while not enticing commuters? AKA Solving the stated problem.

  • Anonymous

    How does this project relate to the parallel I-290 add-a-lane, take-away-a-lane proposal for the section starting at the west edge of the Circle Interchange boundary and extending west to roughly Mannheim?

    First, it was the failed Hillside Strangler improvement. Next, it was to be the ill-advised I-290 add-a-lane, and now the Circle Interchange. How much money are we throwing at I-290 road-oriented solutions to mis-identified urban transportation needs, all the while knowing that the huge investments will be ineffective in achieving their stated goals and fall far short of their all-too-optimistic benefit projections? The corridor was built with great foresight as the first multimodal highway/rail corridor in the nation; however, every major capital
    investment since that time has been to expand road capacity, correct geometric deficiencies, and improve travel time and safety.

    Where has that single-minded strategy delivered us?

    We have a very complete road network. People can get to anywhere they wish by way of car. We do not need more capacity and greater speed to travel farther, faster. Heck, even IDOT’s own unrealistic projections find that their projects are unable to solve congestion. Their claims of multimodal interest and support are disingenuous – simply follow the money.

    When can we start making smart decisions?

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