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Take a survey to weigh in on Pace’s proposed Tri-State Tollway express services

7:25 PM CST on February 7, 2022

Rendering of the proposed 103rd Street station, ocated immediately east of Harlem Avenue in Chicago Ridge. Image: Pace

Pace is inviting the public to give input on the proposed suburb-to-suburb express service expansion along I-294 / the Tri-State Tollway.

The project is a collaboration between Pace, the Regional Transportation Authority and the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority. As Streetsblog has previously reported, the service would run between Harvey Transportation Center, a major Metra/Pace transit hub in the eponymous south suburb, and either the Rosemont Blue Line station or the office park in northwest suburban Schaumburg, near the spot where I-90 / the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway passes under Meacham Road. Current plans call for flex lanes along the shoulder that could become bus-only during rush hours and heavy traffic, and “in-line” bus stations that will allow buses to pick up and drop off passengers without leaving the highway. Pace is also considering routes that would connect to intermediate destinations on and near that corridor, such as Midway Airport, Oak Brook Shopping Center and suburban park-and-rides that are currently served by I-55 / the Stevenson Expressway rush hour buses.

The study area covers the 48-mile I-294/I-90 corridor between Harvey in the south and Schaumburg in the north. Image: Pace
The study area covers the 48-mile I-294/I-90 corridor between Harvey in the south and Schaumburg in the north. Image: Pace

The survey asks residents to weigh in what bus routes they would prefer, what kind of features they would like the stations to have, and which station locations they would support. Pace will then use that feedback to refine the plans as they move forward.

When the Illinois Tollway began developing plans to renovate the central portion of Tri-State Tollway, it brought Pace on board to see if it could incorporate any transit-friendly infrastructure. The agencies decided to do something similar to what they did at I-90 / the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway, adding outer lanes on the shoulders that can become bus-only lanes when traffic is congested, and adding at least two in-line stations.

Pace would start with a station at Cermak Toll Plaza near the office park in west suburban Oak Brook, and a station on the site of the demolished O’Hare Oasis in Schiller Park, which is located near hotels, warehouses and the airport’s freight facilities. The third station at southwest suburban Chicago Ridge would be build near the corner of 103rd Street and Harlem Avenue. One of the things the survey asks is which station Pace should prioritize, or whether it should prioritize all three.

Rendering of the bus station design at Cermak Toll Plaza / Oak Brook station for the express route. Image: Pace
Rendering of the bus station design at Cermak Toll Plaza / Oak Brook station for the express route. Image: Pace

I’ve written about all three stations before, and I won’t repeat myself here, but I did want to go into more detail about the potential routes. (The names and numbers that the study uses are for planning purposes only – the actual route numbers for whatever routes get approved will be different)  Route 1a - Harvey-Rosemont wouldn’t go past the Rosemont ‘L’ station, while Route 1 - Harvey-Elk Grove (via Rosemont) would continue along I-90 to serve Elk Grove Village’s Busse Road corridor. Route 4 - Harvey-Schaumburg would leave the tollway at Country Lane Road to serve the Busse Road corridor and continue on to Schaumburg, serving the Northwest Transportation Center near Woodfield Mall along the way.

Route 10 - Harvey-Oak Brook would start at the Harvey Transportation Center and leave the tollway to serve Cermak Road corridor and the Oak Brook Shopping Center. Route 8a/Oak Brook Center-Rosemont would do the similar thing, just from Rosemont ‘L’ station.

Potential route alignments and station locations. Image: Pace
Potential route alignments and station locations. Image: Pace

Route 9 - Burr Ridge-Rosemont would connect the ‘L’ station and the Burr Ridge Park-n-Ride facility, which would allow for connections to the Route 855 rush hour express bus that runs between Plainfield and the Loop and Magnificent Mile.

Finally, Route 8 - Harvey-Midway would run between the Harvey Transportation Center and Midway, making local stops along the portion of 73rd Street between Harlem and Cicero avenues. This would allow Pace to provide transit service to multiple industrial businesses south of the CSX Railroad’s Belford Park freight yard, a corridor that currently doesn’t have any direct public transportation service.

The survey asks the residents to pick the three routes they would prefer.

Pace interim executive director Melinda Metzger, who was involved in the development of the I-90 improvements, said in a statement that she expects whatever emerges from the planning routes to be as successful as what the transit agency did on the Stevenson and the Jane Addams. “This study gives us the knowledge we need for the thoughtful and equitable implementation of fast, efficient express bus service supported by new inline bus rapid transit stations along I-294.”

RTA executive director Leanne Redden stated that she expects the project to “allow Pace to adapt to the evolving needs of riders and stay competitive in the future.”

Illinois Tollway executive director José Alvarez stated that the collaboration with Pace will help “ensure our capital program maximizes our return on investment... This is the type of collaboration that pays economic dividends for the state of Illinois and our regional transportation network."

Click here to find out more about the project.

Click here to take the survey.

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