Rolling out new route to O'Hare; State to holds talks with municipalities on western access

Talks between the state and two dozen municipalities are scheduled to begin this week on extending the eastern portion of the Elgin-O'Hare Expressway now that the Chicago-versus-suburbs fight over expanding O'Hare International Airport is at least...

The route most often mentioned is to extend the Elgin-O'Hare via a corridor aligned with Thorndale Avenue, where it intersects the Eisenhower in Itasca.

Preliminary discussions also at the conceptual stage portray the north-south road as being a toll highway that bypasses the airport and connects I-90 and I-294. Officials at the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority have been involved in the talks on the Elgin-O'Hare extension and the bypass highway.

Chicago has preserved a 300-foot-wide corridor on the west side of airport property for the bypass road, but no specific proposals have been made to route the bypass to I-90 on the north or to I-294 on the south.

The state last year fueled tension over the potential route. IDOT apologized to Bensenville and Elk Grove Village after a map was made public that depicted the bypass highway slicing through the suburbs.

IDOT officials said the map was erroneous. It showed the bypass route following a straight line through the two suburbs about a half-mile west of Elmhurst Road, which becomes York Road. Officials later said that the map did not reflect a precise route, and that the proposed highway actually would run along O'Hare's western edge east of York.

The Elgin-O'Hare, which had been on the drawing boards since the 1960s as a way to link Fox Valley communities with towns to the east and the tollway system, opened in 1993. By then, most of the open space in the corridor had been developed.

Previous proposals included extending the Elgin-O'Hare using York Road west of O'Hare into the airport, including via Irving Park Road and Mannheim Road in Schiller Park. Vacant airport property in the southwestern section of O'Hare -- not suburban lands -- would have been used.

But Chicago, hoping to one day build more runways, opposed those plans, and the city eventually took control of hundreds of suburban acres for O'Hare expansion.

A major controversy is whether more homes and businesses will be bulldozed to extend the Elgin-O'Hare and link up the bypass highway to the Northwest Tollway and the South Tri-State.

The Elgin-O'Hare and western bypass corridor planning group will hold its kickoff meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the DoubleTree Hotel, 1200 N. Mittel Blvd., Wood Dale.

The meeting is open to the public, but IDOT said public participation will not be allowed until an informational meeting set for 4 to 7 p.m. Nov. 14 at the Oak Meadows Golf Club, 900 N. Wood Dale Rd., Addison.

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