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IDOT Is Considering Adding Four New Car Lanes Lanes to I-55

Traffic on the Stevenson Expressway. Photo: Eric Allix Rogers

The Illinois Department of Transportation is now considering widening the I-55, the Stevenson Expressway in Chicago, with two new lanes in each direction, after it had previously proposed and studied the addition of one lane in each direction. All additional lanes would be "managed" lanes, meaning that they would have policies and technology applied to manage the maximum traffic congestion allowed in them.

In an email last week, and on the website dedicated to the project, IDOT said that it is now going to study adding two lanes in each direction and plans to host a public meeting on December 6, from 4 to 7 p.m., at Toyota Park in Bridgeview.

Managing congestion is possible by charging a toll during peak periods, and adjusting the toll depending on the level of demand to use the less-congested lanes. In many cases where managed lanes are used – typically called HOT, or high occupancy toll lanes – drivers who have one or more passengers, and buses, are exempted from paying the toll.

The Active Transportation Alliance came out against the highway widening nearly two years ago. Essentially, you can take their same statement and change the phrasing from "at least one lane in each direction" to "two lanes in each direction" and the problems with the project are the same: "Adding more lanes for cars -- be they conventional, car pool or tolled lanes -- only exacerbates traffic congestion in the long run while making non-auto options less viable."

IDOT still has no funding for the project and is looking for a company to partner with to construct it and get paid back via toll revenues. Tell IDOT what you think at the meeting or via a comment form.

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