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Interstate 88 (Western)

 

Routing

Formerly Illinois 5 (and before that Illinois 190), the western Interstate 88 is the Ronald Reagan Memorial Highway and the Ronald Reagan Memorial Tollway from Interstate 80 near the Quad Cities east to the Interstate 290/Eisenhower Expressway and Interstate 294/Tri-State Tollway interchange near Hillside. Until 2004, the tollway section was known as the East-West Tollway (from Sterling east to Hillside). Interstate 88 provides an alternative to Interstate 80 between the Quad Cities area and Chicago (especially points north and west of the Loop). The tollway passes through Dixon, which is the boyhood home of former President Ronald Reagan.

History

Interstate 88 was commissioned in July 2, 1987,1 replacing former Illinois 5. The year of commissioning and numerical designation are likely related (signage was placed in 1987 and 1988; 1988 could be linked to the designation of Interstate 88). The Illinois State Toll Highway Authority indicated that the renumbering was necessary so that they could raise the speed limit to 65 mph due to a federal law at the time that allowed states to increase speed limits on highways designated as Interstates. The limit was increased between Napierville and Rock Falls.4

The section of Interstate 88/East-West Tollway from Interstate 290/Eisenhower Expressway west to Aurora was constructed between 1956 and 1958, opening to traffic in 1958. The original construction of the 28-mile initial section of the East-West Tollway (and the other original tollways) was funded by a bond issuance in the amount of $415 million by the state tollway commission (which was created in 1953).2, 3 All of the urban tollways (including the Northwest Tollway, the easternmost portion of the East-West Tollway, the Tri-State Tollway, and the Chicago Skyway) were open to traffic by 1958.

The second major section of the East-West Tollway to open was 69 miles long, from Junction Illinois 56 in Aurora west to Junction Illinois 40 near Sterling and Rock Falls. This portion was funded with a bond issuance by the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority in 1970. This route was shown as under construction in the 1972 Rand McNally Road Atlas and opened in 1974. The Illinois Department of Transportation built the remainder of the highway from the Illinois 40 interchange near Sterling west to the Quad Cities in the 1970s; this section has no toll.

The first segment of the East-West Tollway (Aurora to Chicago) was originally designated as Illinois 190 in the 1960s, and it was renumbered as Illinois 5 by the early 1970s (before the extension to the Quad Cities was completed). The entire route was recommissioned as Interstate 88 in 1987.

Highway Guides

Western Terminus - Interstate 80/Illinois 5 - East Moline, Illinois
Perspective from Interstate 88 west
The is the reassurance shield assembly for Interstate 88 and Illinois 92 after the onramp at Exit 6. Interstate 88 and Illinois 92 continue west toward the Quad Cities. Photo by AARoads (09/04/05).
Continuing west, the final two interchanges along westbound Interstate 88 and Illinois 92 are Exit 2, Junction Former Illinois 2 and Exits 1B-A, Junction Interstate 80 to Interstate 74 and Junction Illinois 5. Photo by AARoads (09/04/05).
Westbound Interstate 88 and Illinois 92 approach Exit 2, Junction Former Illinois 2 and Exits 1B-A, Junction Interstate 80 and Illinois 5. Interstate 88 and Illinois 92 will directly transition into Illinois 5-92 west to Moline and Rock Island. Photo by AARoads (09/04/05).
Before the construction of the western extension of Interstate 88 from Rock Island to the Quad Cities, this corridor was part of Illinois 2. While Illinois 2 remains in service northeast of Dixon along the Rock River, it was decommissioned in favor of Interstate 88 once the freeway opened. The old alignment is known as "Former Illinois 2." Photo by AARoads (09/04/05).
Westbound Interstate 88 and Illinois 92 meet Former Illinois 2 at Exit 2. The next exit is the cloverleaf interchange with Interstate 80 and Illinois 5. For the first time, Illinois 5 is mentioned on the guide sign. Photo by AARoads (09/04/05).
The first ramp in this interchange connects westbound Interstate 88 and Illinois 92 with Exit 1B, Junction Interstate 80 west to Bettendorf and Davenport, Iowa. The second ramp in the cloverleaf connects to Exit 1A, Junction Interstate 80 east (south) to Interstate 74 (en route to Peoria). Photo by AARoads (09/04/05).
A collector-distributor lane connects traffic from Former Illinois 2 with lanes connecting to westbound Interstate 80 as seen in this view from mainline Interstate 88 and Illinois 92 west. Photo by AARoads (09/04/05).
It appears that the overhead signage was taken down, so temporary signs were placed for the connection to eastbound Interstate 80 (Exit 1A) and the through route for Illinois 5 and 92. The bridge that carries mainline Interstate 80 over this interchange is visible in the background. Photo by AARoads (09/04/05).
Westbound Interstate 88 and Illinois 92 reach Exit 1A, Junction Interstate 80 east to Interstate 74 to Peoria. Once again, the guide sign was removed (but is visible on the side of the road). Photo by AARoads (09/04/05).
End Westbound Interstate 88 and Begin Illinois 5 (Illinois 5 was the former designation for Interstate 88 before it was added to the Interstate Highway System in 1988) as the freeway converts into an at-grade expressway after the Interstate 80 overpass. Use Illinois 5-92 west to the Quad Cities. Photo taken by AARoads (09/04/05).
After the end shield, the first crossroad is with Hubbard Road (193rd Street North). The freeway reverts to an at-grade expressway after this intersection. Continue west on Illinois 5-92 to Moline and Rock Island. Photo by AARoads (09/04/05).
Perspective from Illinois 5-92 east
After the Hubbard Road intersection, this sign advises of the pending cloverleaf interchange with Interstate 80. The freeway begins here. Photo by AARoads (09/04/05).
Perspective from Interstate 88 and Illinois 92 east
Interstate 88 begins and Illinois 5 ends after the Hubbard Road intersection. The freeway carries a 65 miles per hour speed limit. Photo by AARoads (09/04/05).
The first ramp connects to Exit 1A, Junction Interstate 80 east (south) to Interstate 74 east to Peoria. The second ramp (a loop ramp) connects to westbound Interstate 80 (Exit 1B). Photo by AARoads (09/04/05).
Eastbound Interstate 88 and Illinois 92 reach Exit 1B, Junction Interstate 80 west. Photo by AARoads (09/04/05).
After passing under Interstate 80, eastbound Interstate 88 and Illinois 92 reach the first standalone interchange: Exit 2, Junction Former Illinois 2. Photo by AARoads (09/04/05).
This reassurance shield for eastbound Interstate 88 (Ronald Reagan Memorial Highway) and Illinois 92 is posted after Exit 2, Junction Former Illinois 2. The freeway continues as a free road until Exit 44 near Rochelle, then shifts into a toll road. Photo by AARoads (09/04/05).
Perspective from Interstate 80 east
Upon crossing the Mississippi River on a steel girder bridge, leaving the Hawkeye State of Iowa, and entering the state of Illinois (Land of Lincoln), eastbound Interstate 80 approaches its junction with Western Interstate 88, Illinois 5, and Illinois 92. Prior to this major freeway interchange, Interstate 80 east has a ramp that connects to a welcome center that overlooks the river and a weigh station. Photo by AARoads (09/04/05).
A second overhead sign is posted at the weigh station offramp for Exit 4, Junction Interstate 88 east to Chicago via Dixon, Illinois 5-92/John Deere Expressway west to Moline, and Illinois 92 east to Mendota. Illinois 92 is part of the multi-state route 92, which begins in Torrington, Wyoming, and ends at U.S. 34 in La Moille. Illinois 5 used to be the designation for Interstate 88. In order for the speed limit on Illinois 5 to be raised to 65 miles per hour in rural areas, the freeway was promoted to Interstate 88 in 1988. Photo by AARoads (09/04/05).
The first ramp in the cloverleaf interchange between Interstate 80 and Interstate 88 east of Moline connects to Illinois 5-92 west to Silvis, Carbon Cliff, Moline, and Rock Island. Photo by AARoads (09/04/05).
Interstate 88 travels about 44 miles as a freeway with no tolls, but it shifts onto the East-West Tollway after Exit 44 (Junction U.S. 30). The toll road continues east past Rochelle (Junction Interstate 39/U.S. 51), De Kalb, Aurora, and Naperville before ending at the Interstate 290 merge west of Chicago. From here, the most direct route to downtown Chicago is via Interstate 88 and Interstate 290, but it requires paying a toll. Interstate 80 has no toll, but it remains south of the Chicago metropolitan area. Photo by AARoads (09/04/05).
Eastbound Interstate 80 reaches Exit 4A, Junction Illinois 5-92 west to Silvis and Moline. A faster route to Moline and Rock Island is via Interstate 74-280 west. The second ramp (Exit 4B) connects to eastbound Interstate 88 to Rock Falls and Chicago. Note the lack of control city for eastbound Interstate 80, which is generally Chicago through eastern Iowa and northern Illinois. This is because Interstate 88 goes to the same place, albeit on a more direct path. Photo by AARoads (09/04/05).
Continuing south, this loop offramp from eastbound Interstate 80 connects to eastbound Interstate 88 to Rock Island and Chicago. Photo by AARoads (09/04/05).
Perspective from Interstate 80 west
This is the two-mile advance sign for the interchange with Interstate 88 and Illinois 5-92 as seen on westbound Interstate 80 just prior to the Rock River bridge. Photo by AARoads (09/04/05).
Westbound Interstate 80 approaches Exits 4A-B, Junction Interstate 88 and Illinois 5-92. Use Interstate 88 east to Sterling and Rock Falls. Photo by AARoads (09/04/05).
Exit 4A connects westbound Interstate 80 with Interstate 88 and Illinois 92 east to Sterling and Rock Falls. Exit 4B is the loop ramp to Illinois 5-92 west to Moline and Rock Island. Photo by AARoads (09/04/05).
Westbound Interstate 80 reaches Exit 4A, Junction Interstate 88 and Illinois 92 east to Sterling and Rock Falls. Interstate 88 continues east onto the East-West Tollway, which serves Rochelle, De Kalb, Aurora, and Naperville before ending at Interstate 290 (the Hillside Strangler interchange). The following ramp connects to Illinois 5-92 west to Moline. Photo by AARoads (09/04/05).
Eastern Terminus - Interstate 290/Interstate 294 - Chicago, Illinois
Perspective from Interstate 88 east
Sign alerting motorists about the toll at the York Rd toll plaza. The plaza is the last toll before motorists are funneled to Interstate 290 and Interstate 294. Photo taken by Brian Dowd (08/16/02).
Distance signage before the York Rd toll plaza giving distances to the Tri-State Tollway and the Eisenhower Expressway. Photo taken by Brian Dowd (08/16/02).
After the York Toll plaza, the first exit at the Interstate 88 terminus is for Interstate 294 Southbound. Note here that Indiana is used as the control city for Southbound Interstate 294 but Milwaukee is used for Interstate 294 Northbound. This is an exception for Interstate 294, as Wisconsin is used in other places along the tollway (most notably at the Interstate 80/294 split). Photo taken by Don Hargraves (09/02).
Split of the Interstate 294 south ramp from the rest of mainline Interstate 88 east. The Interstate 290 shield is a 2di shield with the 3di digits condensed into it. The ramp in the background is the connection from Interstate 294 Northbound to Interstate 88 Westbound. Photo taken by Brian Dowd (08/16/02).
This interchange is kind of odd because of the tolls on the tollways. Southbound Interstate 294 traffic is diverted off quickly after the York Toll so that traffic doesn't have to pay a toll at the Cermak (22nd Street) Toll Plaza. Traffic heading north on Interstate 294 is dumped onto Interstate 294 north of the Cermak Toll Plaza. The right-hand panel directs motorist to a connecting collector/distributor lane for Interstate 290 on Interstate 294. In other words, traffic actually utilizes Interstate 294's lane before accessing Interstate 290. A similar traffic setup is in place for traffic from Interstate 290 Eastbound wanting to access Interstate 88 Westbound. Motorist must exit onto Interstate 294 Southbound and stay in the right lane for Interstate 88 Westbound. Also of note... Interstate 290 East is qualified as the Eisenhower Expressway, but Interstate 290 west is not. Beyond Interstate 294, Interstate 290 is technically not apart of the Eisenhower Expressway. Instead it carries the name "Eisenhower Extension." Photo taken by Brian Dowd (08/16/02).
Guide sign on Interstate 88 eastbound for the Interstate 294 northbound exit. Photo taken by Brian Dowd (08/16/02).
The partition of Interstate 88 eastbound for Interstates 290 and 294. The left two lanes exit onto Interstate 290 eastbound, locally known as "Inbound on the Eisenhower." The right-hand lanes connect traffic to Interstate 294 north with the aforementioned connection to Interstate 290 west. Photo taken by Brian Dowd (08/16/02).
A second perspective of the Interstate 290/294 lane split on Interstate 88 eastbound. 78 miles to the north is the city of Milwaukee via Interstate 294 and 94 while downtown Chicago is another 15 miles eastward along Interstate 290. Photo taken by Don Hargraves (09/02).
New signage for the Interstate 88 Eastern terminus at Interstate 290 Eastbound. This assembly is one of the new signs from the reconstruction of this interchange, known as the "Hillside Strangler." Traffic wanting to exit onto U.S. Routes 12/20/45/Mannheim Rd now exit onto a collector/distributor lane on the right side of Interstate 290. Through traffic continues to the left, with merge also on the left of Interstate 290 (this is the original configuration). This project was undertaken to aid in the traffic flow facilitation in the area. Visible in the background is one of the fairly ironic "Tollway Ends... Thank you for using the Illinois Tollway" signs. Similar signs can be found at the end of the Edens Spur ramp and on both ends of Interstate 355/North-South Tollway. Photo taken by Brian Dowd (08/16/02).
Transition from Interstate 88 east onto Interstate 290 east. An Interstate 88 ends/Interstate 290 begins guide sign is in place. The overhead panel is similar to the new signage Pictured in the above photograph. Note that the condensed highway gothic font is the same that is utilized in the state of Georgia. Photos taken by Don Hargraves (09/02) and Brian Dowd (08/16/02).
Interstate 88 ends guide sign cameo at the transition to Interstate 290. Characters and outline retain button copy. Photo taken by Don Hargraves (09/02).
The connecting ramp from Interstate 88 east to Interstate 290 continues, as this sign bridge splits traffic between the mainline and collector/distributor roadway. Note that traffic bound for U.S. 12/20/45 must exit to access those highways. Photo taken by Brian Dowd (08/16/02).
Perspective from Interstate 290 west
Now traveling west on Interstate 290/Eisenhower Expressway, the pending interchange with Interstate 88 first appears at the U.S. 12-20-45/Mannheim Road offramp (Exit 17). Interstate 88 splits from Interstate 290 at the Interstate 294/Tri-State Tollway interchange, commonly known as the "Hillside Strangler" due to commute hour delays and back-ups. Photo taken by Steve Hanudel (05/14/06).
Prior to Exit 16, Wolf Road, these signs advise that the right two lanes connect to Interstate 294/Tri-State Tollway north and carry Interstate 290 west, while the left two lanes connect to Interstate 88/East-West Tollway and Interstate 294/Tri-State Tollway south. Photo taken by Steve Hanudel (05/14/06).
Heading west on Interstate 290/Eisenhower Expressway in the "Hillside Strangler" interchange, each freeway is given is own lane allocation. From left to right, the allocations are: Interstate 88/East-West Tollway west to Aurora, Interstate 294/Tri-State Tollway south to Joliet and Indiana, Interstate 290/Eisenhower Expressway Extension to Rockford, and Interstate 294/Tri-State Tollway north to O'Hare International Airport and Milwaukee. Photo taken by Steve Hanudel (05/14/06).
A bit further west, the routes divide. The left two lanes carry Interstate 88/East-West Tollway west to Aurora and Interstate 294/Tri-State Tollway south to Joliet and Indiana. The right two lanes connect to Interstate 290/Eisenhower Expressway Extension to Rockford and Interstate 294/Tri-State Tollway north to O'Hare International Airport and Milwaukee. Photo taken by Steve Hanudel (05/14/06).
Perspective from Interstate 88 west
After traffic departs onto Interstate 294 north and Interstate 290 west, Interstate 88 officially begins. The pull-through sign is unique in that it features an Interstate 88 Illinois shield (see close-up) and is button copy. This was the standard back when Interstate 88 was commissioned in 1988. The first exit is the connection to Interstate 294/Tri-State Tollway south and Illinois 38/Roosevelt Road. Photos taken by Steve Hanudel (05/14/07) and Jeff Royston (11/01).
The right two lanes prepare to exit onto Interstate 294/Tri-State Tollway south and Illinois 38/Roosevelt Road. The left lane continues west on Interstate 88/East-West Tollway. Photo taken by Steve Hanudel (05/14/06).
After traffic from Interstate 294 merges onto westbound Interstate 88, this is the first reassurance shield. Photo taken by Steve Hanudel (05/14/06).
The first exit on westbound Interstate 88/East-West Tollway is the junction with Illinois 83, followed by Highland Avenue and Junction Interstate 355/North-South Tollway. Photo taken by Steve Hanudel (05/14/06).
This Interstate 88 Research and Development Corridor sign is located on westbound after the Hillside Strangler interchange. Photo by Jeff Royston (11/01).
Perspective from Interstate 294 north
Now on northbound Interstate 294/Tri-State Tollway, this mileage sign provides the distance to the next three Interstate highway interchanges. It is located some 23 miles south of the Interstate 88/East-West Tollway interchange. There are a couple signs like these giving distances to the next three interstate connections along Interstate 294, and they are normally found on the Illinois Tollway system. Photo taken by Brian Dowd (11/28/02).
Interstate 294/Tri-State Tollway northbound at U.S. 34/Ogden Avenue, two miles from the connector to Interstate 88 west. The control point is the far western suburb of Aurora, 21 miles out. Meanwhile U.S. 34 see its eastern terminus a short distance to the east. Photo taken by AARoads (09/03/05).
After the U.S. 34 interchange, this Interstate 294 reassurance shield and overhead panel for Interstate 88/Ronald Reagan East-West Tollway are found one mile before the transition ramp. The East-West Tollway also serves De Kalb and the Quad Cities. Photo taken by AARoads (09/03/05).
An extra lane is allocated to Interstate 294 northbound for Interstate 88 west. This overhead is situated a short distance from the connector ramp to the East-West Tollway. Photo taken by Don Hargraves (09/02).
Northbound Interstate 294/Tri-State Tollway reaches the ramp to Interstate 88/East-West Tollway west. The eastern terminus of Interstate 88 is split between Interstate 294/Tri-State Tollway and the adjacent Interstate 290/Eisenhower Expressway. Traffic continuing northward on the Tri-State Tollway will see an exit for Illinois 38/Roosevelt Road before intersecting Interstate 290 and the northern fork of Interstate 88. Photos taken by Steve Hanudel (05/14/06) and Don Hargraves (09/02).
Perspective from Interstate 294 south
Southbound Interstate 294/Tri-State Tollway reaches the exit for Junction Interstate 290 northwest to Rockford and Schaumburg. This is the first signage in place for the pending interchange with Interstate 290/Eisenhower Tollway east to downtown Chicago and Junction Interstate 88/East-West Tollway west to the Quad Cities. Photo taken by AARoads (09/03/05).
Southbound Interstate 294/Tri-State Tollway approaching the Interstate 290 eastbound ramp. This sign bridge is located one mile before Interstate 294 sees its connection with Interstate 88 via the northern fork of the East-West Tollway. Photo taken by Don Hargraves (09/02).
Now only three-fourths of a mile from Interstate 88, Interstate 290 traffic departs for downtown Chicago. Meanwhile the left-hand panel displays Interstate 294 south "Straight Ahead." This signing practice is in use for northbound as well at this confluence. Photo taken by Don Hargraves (09/02).
Split of Interstate 294 south with traffic bound for Interstate 88 west. The northern fork of Interstate 88 ties directly into Interstate 290/Eisenhower Expressway just to the east, while the southern fork ties into Interstate 294 south beyond the Cermak Road interchange (which is accessible only in the southbound direction). Photo taken by Don Hargraves (09/02).

Sources:

  1. Personal Email from Jason Hancock on 07/09/06, citing an article from the Moline Daily Dispatch on 7/29/87.
  2. Encyclopedia of Chicago: Expressways by Dennis McClendon of the Chicago Historical Society.
  3. Encyclopedia of Chicago: Tollways by David M. Young of the Chicago Historical Society.
  4. "East-West Tollway now I- 88 - speed 65 in one area." Chicago Sun-Times, July 2, 1987.

Thanks goes to Brian Dowd for most of the write-up information pertaining to the eastern terminus of Interstate 88 photographs.

Page Updated April 16, 2008.

 
Mileage

State Illinois
Mileage 140.60
Cities Sterling, Rock Falls, Rochelle, DeKalb, Aurora, Naperville, Downers Grove, Elmhurst, Villa Park, Lombard, Chicago
Junctions Interstate 80, Interstate 39, Interstate 294, Interstate 290
State New York
Mileage 117.75
Cities Binghamton, Oneonta, Schenectady
Junctions Interstate 81, Interstate 90
TOTAL 258.35
Source: October 31, 2002 Interstate Route Log and Finders List
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