Interstate 290 Illinois

Looking down from the observation deck of Willis (Sears) Tower, the tallest building in Chicago, at the Jane Byrne (Circle) Interchange between Interstates 90 & 94 (Kennedy and Ryan Expressways) and Interstate 290 & IL 110 (Eisehower Expressway). This view looks west, with I-290 & IL 110 (CKC) bee lining toward the western suburbs. Photo taken by Steve Hanudel (05/14/06).

Routing

Interstate 290 is a conglomerate of several highways constructed in different eras. It begins at Interstate 90 in Schaumburg, heading south toward Addison along the Illinois 53 corridor. The route turns southeast once it meets Interstate 355, the Veterans Memorial (North South) Tollway. I-355 parallels IL 53 south to Downers Grove and Joliet while I-290 continues to Elmhurst and Berkeley.

A southeasterly trajectory takes I-290 adjacent to U.S. 20 (Lake Street) through to Illinois 64 (North Avenue) and Interstate 294 (Tri State Tollway). Interstates 290 and 294 parallel one another south for 2.2 miles to the village of Hillside, where the I-290 forks to the east to merge with the east end of Interstate 88 (Ronald Reagan [East West] Tollway). The Tri State Tollway stays on a southern heading to Hinsdale and I-55, where it curves southeast to I-80 and South Holland.

Leading east toward Chicago, the wye interchange where I-88 & Illinois 110 (Chicago Kansas City Expressway) combines with I-290 represents a bottleneck where five lanes of eastbound traffic reduce to three. Beyond the congested merge point, Illinois 110 (CKC) overlaps with Interstate 290 as the freeway winds east between the villages of Bellwood, Broadview and Maywood to Illinois 171. Following the original Congress Expressway, which was renamed th Dwight D. Eisenhower Expressway, I-290 separates Concordia and Forest Home Cemeteries at the Des Plains River in Forest Park. The below grade, six-lane freeway advances east from there through the village of Oak Park to enter the city of Chicago at Austin Boulevard.

The Eisenhower Expressway is one of the oldest freeways in Chicago. It runs between the South Austin and Lawndale neighborhoods initially through to Near West Side, the Illinois Medical District and University Village / Little Italy. Interstate 290 & IL 110 meet Interstates 90 & 94 at the Jayne Byrne (Circle) Interchange just west of Downtown Chicago. The freeway continues a short distance east of the exchange as a city parkway into the Loop. Known as Congress Parkway, the limited access highway transitions into a surface boulevard east of the tunnel below the Old Chicago Post Office. The surface street portion of Congress Parkway ends at the foot of Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park, just shy of U.S. 41 (Lake Shore Drive).

Looming over the east end of Interstate 290 for years as a vacant building, the Old Chicago Post Office will see new life as part of a $500 million plus renovation project starting in latter 2016. The three phase project remedies more than 20 code violations and includes replacing the roof, repairing the facade and restoring the historic lobby. The 1.2 million square foot office building should be ready by 2018.5

History

Interstate 290 is very tightly routed through the western suburbs and the west side of Chicago, with very little room for any kind of expansion. The Congress Expressway was an original freeway, and it follows the route of Interstate 290 from Downtown Chicago west to Interstate 88 (Ronald Reagan Tollway) & Illinois 110 (CKC) and Interstate 294 (Tri-State Tollway).

Planning for a limited access freeway route along Congress Street has a long and rich history, with its initial inclusion in the 1909 Plan of Chicago by Daniel H. Burnham. The 1940 Comprehensive Superhighway System of Chicago (approved by the Chicago City Council) included the Congress Street Expressway on October 31, 1940, and construction was authorized with that action. Construction began on December 7, 1949, and the first section to open was between South Ashland Avenue and South Laramie Avenue on December 15, 1955. The remainder of the route between South Ashland Avenue and Grant Park in Downtown Chicago (The Loop) opened on August 10, 1956. The $100 million project was a joint effort between the city, county and state. The Congress Street Expressway (or West Expressway) was renamed on January 10, 1964, to honor former President Dwight D. Eisenhower by the Chicago City Council. The Eisenhower Extension, which led northwest from the Congress Expressway alignment toward Schaumburg, opened in 1971.1,2

The Eisenhower Expressway was numbered as part of transcontinental Interstate 90 once the Interstate Highway System markers were placed on Chicago's expressway network. However, during a major renumbering of the Chicago metropolitan expressways in 1978, as approved by AASHTO on July 6, 1977, Interstate 290 replaced I-90. Interstate 90 was relocated to the John F. Kennedy Expressway and Jane Addams (Northwest) Memorial Tollway via Interstate 94 and Former Illinois 194. This renumbering also resulted in the redesignation of Illinois 594 (O'Hare Airport Spur of Kennedy Expressway) as Interstate 190. The idea was to provide a more direct Interstate 90 corridor from the Northwest Suburbs to Downtown Chicago.

Interstate 290 and Illinois 53 run concurrently from the village of Itasca, just north of the I-355 end, to Interstate 90 (Jane Addams Memorial Tollway). Illinois 53 extends as a freeway north from the I-290 end through the city of Rolling Meadows and around the village of Palatine to Lake Cook Road. The remainder of the route northeast through the village of Long Grove travels at-grade. Long standing plans for Illinois 53 included an extension of the freeway north to an extension of the U.S. 12 freeway southeast from Wisconsin. These plans however have met stiff opposition from community leaders in the affluent Lake County suburbs. One plan called for building a portion of the IL 53 route as a 45 mile per hour parkway, while others call for no build alternatives.

Expansion near the western terminus of Interstate 290 added a lane in each direction, bringing I-290 to eight overall lanes. Further construction completed in fall 2003 widened I-290 to eight lanes between Woodfield Road (near Exits 1A/B) and Thorndale Avenue (Exit 5). Auxiliary lanes were also constructed in this project.3

A ceremony took place on August 29, 2014 to formally rename the long standing Circle Interchange, where Interstates 90, 94 and 290 and Illinois 110 (Chicago Kansas City Expressway) come together,after former Chicago Mayor Jane Byrne. Byrne was the successor to Richard J. Daley and Chicago's first female mayor. She served one term in office that ended in 1983.4

Western Terminus - Interstate 90 - Rolling Meadows, Illinois
Perspective from Interstate 290 west
This picture shows the first signage for Interstate 90 approaching the western terminus of Interstate 290 at Interstate 90/Illinois 53 at Exit 1B. This is the last mainline exit of Interstate 290 westbound before it transitions solely into Illinois 53 north. Photo taken 09/03/05.
Westbound Interstate 290/northbound Illinois 53/Eisenhower Expressway Extension reaches Exit 1B, Junction Illinois 72/Higgins Road and Illinois 58/Golf Road. The final exit is the interchange with Interstate 90/Northwest Tollway. Photo taken 09/03/05.
Westbound Interstate 290/northbound Illinois 53 splits into local/express lanes, but the both sets of lanes are signed solely as Illinois 53. Illinois 53 continues north of Interstate 90 as a freeway until the Cook-Lake County line; plans call for the freeway to be extended north of this point as a toll road, but that extension is tied up in controversy and lawsuits. It is unclear when/if Illinois will be extended north as a freeway. If it were extended, Illinois 53 would likely become an Interstate highway north of Interstate 90, perhaps as an extension of Interstate 290 or 355, or it could become a new Interstate 594. For now, however, Illinois 53 is the designation for the freeway north of Interstate 90. Photo taken 09/03/05.
Use the local lanes for connections to the following exits: Junction Interstate 90/Northwest Tollway and Junction Illinois 62/Algonquin Road. Use the express lanes to follow Illinois 53 north to Kirchoff Road and beyond. Photo taken 09/03/05.
Here, the local/express lanes split. Technically we are still on Interstate 290, but the Interstate Highway will end at the Interstate 90 undercrossing. The left three lanes follow the express lanes, while the right three lanes follow the local lanes. Photo taken 09/03/05.
Now on the local lanes, westbound Interstate 290/northbound Illinois 53 reach the transition ramp onto eastbound Interstate 90/Northwest Tollway to Chicago. The next exit is the off-ramp for Junction Interstate 90/Northwest Tollway west to Rockford, followed by Junction Illinois 62, Algonquin Road. Photo taken 09/03/05.
Continuing on the dual freeway, westbound Interstate 290 is signed with a simple END shield on the far right edge of the local lanes. The next exit serves westbound Interstate 90/Northwest Tollway followed by Junction Illinois 62, which is the first exit along northbound Illinois 53 after the Interstate 90/290 interchange. The express lanes, which has no access to Interstate 90 or Illinois 62, are to the left of the local lanes. Photo taken 09/03/05.
Perspective from Illinois 53 south
As southbound Illinois 53 approaches Euclid Avenue in Rolling Meadows, this is the first advisory sign of the pending junction with Interstate 90/Northwest Tollway. Photo taken 09/03/05.
Southbound Illinois 53 reaches the Euclid Avenue interchange. This guide sign also mentions the pending junction with Interstate 90/Northwest Tollway, which is achieved through an express/local configuration. Photo taken 09/03/05.
Use the left lanes of southbound Illinois 53 to continue south onto Interstate 290; use the right lanes to connect to Interstate 90/Northwest Tollway. Illinois 53 continues south of this interchange merged with Interstate 290, but it departs as a surface street at Exit 4. Photo taken 09/03/05.
Southbound Illinois 53 is signed on a reassurance shield as the freeway prepares to split: the local lanes take the two right lanes, while the left three lanes will follow the express lanes through to Interstate 290. Photo taken 09/03/05.
Now on the southbound Illinois 53 local lanes, the first exit is Junction Illinois 62/Algonquin Road followed by the ramps to Interstate 90/Northwest Tollway. Photo taken 09/03/05.
Southbound Illinois 53 reaches Junction Illinois 62/Algonquin Road. The next exit is Junction Interstate 90/Northwest Tollway. Photo taken 09/03/05.
The next exit connects southbound Illinois 53 with Interstate 90/Northwest Tollway west to Elgin and Rockford. The next ramp connects to Interstate 90/Northwest Tollway southeast to Chicago. Photo taken 09/03/05.
Begin Interstate 290 at Junction Interstate 90; the first two exits are for Illinois 58 (Golf Road) and Illinois 72 (Higgins Road). The city of Schaumburg is locally famous for the three-level Woodfield Mall, one of the largest in Chicagoland. With the transition from Illinois 53 onto Interstate 290, note that Interstate 290 has exit numbers, unlike Illinois 53. Photo taken 09/03/05.
Perspective from Interstate 90 west
Westbound Interstate 90/Northwest Tollway reach Arlington Heights Road at this interchange; the next interchange is Junction Eastbound Interstate 290/Southbound Illinois 53 and Junction Northbound Illinois 53, two and one-half miles. Photo taken by Brian Dowd (11/28/02).
Westbound Interstate 90/Northwest Tollway approaching Junction Interstate 290/Illinois 53, one mile. The Illinois Tollway does not use exit numbers, and with California erecting exit numbers, the Illinois Tollway may be among the last remaining sections of Interstate Highway not to have exit numbers. Photo taken by Brian Dowd (11/28/02).
Westbound Interstate 90/Northwest Tollway approaching Junction Eastbound Interstate 290/Southbound Illinois 53 and Junction Northbound Illinois 53, next right. Illinois 53 north of this interchange is a freeway north to the Cook-Lake County Line. Note the trailblazer shield on the shoulder pointing TO Interstate 355 South. Interstate 355 is the North-South Tollway, and it is likely that the Illinois Tollway wanted to do its part to generate traffic flow to Interstate 355 from Interstate 90. Photo taken by Brian Dowd (11/28/02).
Westbound Interstate 90/Northwest Tollway at Junction Eastbound Interstate 290/Southbound Illinois 53 and Junction Northbound Illinois 53. Just like on Interstate 290, this interchange separates the express traffic from the collector-distributor lanes in a modified cloverleaf. Photo taken by Brian Dowd (11/28/02).
Westbound Interstate 90/Northwest Tollway collector-distributor ramp at Junction Northbound Illinois 53. The transition ramp to Eastbound Interstate 290/Southbound Illinois 53 is just ahead. Photo taken by Brian Dowd (11/28/02).
Westbound Interstate 90 collector/distributor lane at exit to Eastbound Interstate 290 and Southbound Illinois 53. This tight ramp requires 25 mph. Interstate 290 heads due south from here and turns east after passing by the Interstate 355/North-South Tollway interchange. Photo taken by Brian Dowd (11/28/02).
Perspective from Interstate 90 east
Eastbound Interstate 90/Northwest Tollway approaching Junction Interstate 290 and Illinois 53, two miles. Photo taken by Don Hargraves (11/02).
Eastbound Interstate 90/Northwest Tollway approaching Junction Interstate 290 and Illinois 53, one-half mile. Photo taken by Brian Dowd (11/28/02).
Eastbound Interstate 90/Northwest Tollway approaching Junction Interstate 290 and Illinois 53, next right. The power lines were either placed after the freeway was constructed or rerouted when this interchange was built, since they go around the interchange complex. Photo taken by Brian Dowd (11/28/02).
Eastbound Interstate 90/Northwest Tollway at Junction Interstate 290 and Illinois 53. Northbound Illinois 53 leads to the northwest suburbs, while Southbound Illinois 53/Eastbound Interstate 290 leads to Schaumburg and other western suburbs. Southbound Illinois 53 ultimately ties into Historic U.S. 66 and connects to Joliet, the seat of Will County. Eastbound Interstate 290 leads into the Chicago Loop via the Eisenhower Expressway, one of the oldest expressways in the city. Photo taken by Don Hargraves (11/02).
Transition ramps from eastbound Interstate 90/Northwest Tollway onto Eastbound Interstate 290/Southbound Illinois 53 and Northbound Illinois 53. The rounded pyramid located in between the transition ramps houses salt used for de-icing roads after snow storms. Also of note, to exit onto Northbound Illinois 53 from Eastbound Interstate 90, one must pay a 15 cent toll. Photo taken by Don Hargraves (11/02).
Eastern Terminus - Interstates 90 & 94 - Chicago, Illinois
Perspective from Interstate 290 east
This is the one-mile advance sign for Interstate 90-94 (Circle Interchange) as seen on eastbound Interstate 290/Eisenhower Expressway after the Paulina Street/Ashland Avenue offramp (Exit 28B). Photo taken 09/02/05.
Eastbound Interstate 290 (Eisenhower Expressway) approaching Junction Interstates 90/94 (Dan Ryan and Kennedy Expressways). These are the first advance signs. Interstate 290 does not continue east of this interchange; the mainline shifts onto Congress Parkway, which leads into downtown Chicago. Photo taken 09/02/05.
The right three lanes connect from eastbound Interstate 290 (Eisenhower Expressway) to Interstate 90-94, while the left three lanes continue east on Congress Parkway en route to the Chicago Loop. Photo taken 09/02/05.
Eastbound Interstate 290 (Eisenhower Expressway) approaching Junction Interstates 90/94 (Dan Ryan and Kennedy Expressways). There is an El line (Chicago's version of a subway) running down the center of the expressway, and one of the tracks can be seen here. Photo taken 09/02/05.
An Interstate 290 ends sign is posted here, as the Eisenhower Expressway transitions onto Congress Parkway. Photo taken by Dan Garnell (08/28/03).
Perspective from Congress Parkway east
The first exit on eastbound Congress Parkway is Canal Street. The former Post Office Sorting Facility looms over the parkway. Photo taken 09/02/05.
An offramp to Canal Street is located after Interstate 90-94/Dan Ryan Expressway (Circle Interchange). Photo taken 09/03/05.
Continuing east, Congress Parkway passes underneath the former Post Office Sorting Facility after the Canal Street offramp. Downtown Chicago and the Loop are just beyond this building. Photo taken 09/03/05.
On the east side of the postal sorting facility, Congress Parkway crosses the south branch of the Chicago River on this drawbridge. Photo taken 09/03/05.
An Expressway Ends sign is posted on Congress Parkway as it approaches a traffic signal intersection with Wells Street. There is a loop ramp that exits from Congress Parkway prior to the traffic signal; it connects to Wacker Drive and Franklin Street. Photo taken 09/03/05.
This diagrammatic sign shows the lane allocations for both Franklin Street and Wacker Drive. Both city streets travel north-south (parallel to each other). Wacker Drive follows the east bank of the Chicago River (south branch). Use Lower Wacker Drive north and then east as a relatively fast route to U.S. 41/Lakeshore Drive (but not that fast - the speed limit is 30 miles per hour!). Note the Chicago Stock Exchange, which crosses over Congress Parkway after the Wells Street intersection. Photo taken 09/03/05.
Perspective from Congress Parkway west
Now traveling west on Congress Parkway, this set of overheads advises of the pending junction with Interstate 90-94 and Interstate 290. Use the right two lanes to Interstate 90-94/Dan Ryan Expressway south and Interstate 90-94/John F. Kennedy Expressway northwest. The left lanes continue west onto Interstate 290/Dwight D. Eisenhower Expressway. Photo taken by Steve Hanudel (05/14/06).
Congress Parkway crosses over the South Branch of the Chicago River, then prepares to pass underneath the former Post Office Sorting Facility. The Interstates 90-94 Circle Interchange is just ahead. Photo taken by Steve Hanudel (05/14/06).
Prior to passing under the former Post Office Sorting Facility, a variable message sign advises of travel time to certain locations; in this case, the sign lists the travel time to Harlem Avenue (Junction Illinois 43) and Wolf Road near Hillside and the junction with Interstate 88/East-West Tollway and Interstate 294/Tri-State Tollway. Photo taken by Steve Hanudel (05/14/06).
Continuing west, Congress Parkway comes to an end at the Circle Interchange. Exit right to connect to Interstate 90-94/Dan Ryan Expressway south or Interstate 90-94/Kennedy Expressway northwest. The left three lanes continue west onto Interstate 290/Eisenhower Expressway. Photo taken by Steve Hanudel (05/14/06).
Perspective from Interstates 90-94 west/Dan Ryan Expressway north
The first advisory sign of the junction with Interstate 290/Eisenhower Expressway (Exit 51H) on westbound Interstate 90-94 (northbound Dan Ryan Expressway) appears at the transition ramp to Interstate 55/Stevenson Expressway south (Exit 53B). Photo taken 09/02/05.
Westbound Interstate 90/94 (Dan Ryan Expressway northbound) reaches Exit 52B, Roosevelt Road; Exit 51H is the "Circle Interchange" with Interstate 290. The tall building in the background of this sign bridge is the Sears Tower, which through the latter part of the 1970s and 1980s was the tallest in the world. Since then, taller office buildings have been constructed in Southeast Asia. Photo taken 09/02/05.
Traffic accessing westbound Interstate 290 should remain in the right two lanes, while westbound traffic remaining on Interstate 90/94 westbound should stay in the left three lanes. This marks the southeastern terminus of the John F. Kennedy Expressway, which follows Interstate 190 and 90 between O'Hare International Airport and this interchange near the Chicago Loop (downtown). The Dan Ryan Expressway, which had been carrying Interstate 90/94 westbound, ends at this interchange. Photo taken 09/03/05.
The left three lanes continue west (north) on Interstate 90-94/Kennedy Expressway, while the right two lanes will connect to Interstate 290/Eisenhower Expressway west. Photo taken 09/03/05.
Westbound Interstate 90-94/Dan Ryan Expressway reaches Exit 51H, Junction Interstate 290/Eisenhower Expressway west and Congress Parkway east to the Chicago Loop (downtown). Photo taken 09/03/05.
Two lanes carry traffic from westbound Interstate 90-94/Dan Ryan Expressway onto the collector-distributor lanes that serve Interstate 290/Eisenhower Expressway west and Congress Parkway east to the Chicago Loop. Stay in the left lane for Interstate 290 and right lane for Congress Parkway. Photo taken 09/03/05.
View of the collector/distributor lanes connecting westbound Interstate 90/94 to westbound Interstate 290/Dwight D. Eisenhower Expressway and eastbound Congress Parkway. Originally, the Eisenhower Expressway was known as the Congress Expressway, but the portion of expressway on the Interstate Highway System was renamed the Dwight D. Eisenhower Expressway in honor of the president who authorized the construction of the Interstate Highway System. Photo taken 09/03/05.
Sometimes known as the Circle Interchange, the junction between Interstate 90/94/Kennedy Expressway/Dan Ryan Expressway and Interstate 290/Eisenhower Expressway/Congress Parkway is often one of the busiest and most congested in the city. Unlike some newer cities, most interchanges were built as modified cloverleafs. There are not many flyover ramps or stack interchanges in Chicago (compare that to Los Angeles, home to dozens of stack interchanges and a healthy dose of stack interchanges). This photo again shows the collector/distributor lanes for Interstate 290. The Dan Ryan Expressway transitions into the Kennedy Expressway at this point. Photo taken 09/03/05.
Perspective from Interstate 90-94 east/John F. Kennedy Expressway south
The first indication of the junction with Interstate 290/Eisenhower Expressway on eastbound Interstate 90-94/Kennedy Expressway (inbound) appears just prior to Exit 48B, Junction Illinois 64/North Avenue. There are several exits between here and the ramps leading to Interstate 290/Eisenhower Expressway westbound and Congress Parkway eastbound at the Circle Interchange over the course of three miles. Photo taken 09/04/05.
Eastbound Interstate 90/94 reaches Exit 50A, Ogden Avenue and approaches Exit 50B, Ohio Street east (freeway spur). After several exits serving Chicago's Loop, Interstate 90-94/Kennedy Expressway will meet Interstate 290/Eisenhower Expressway (about one and a half miles south of here) at approaching the downtown Circle Interchange. As noted by the exit numbering here, there are indeed seven off-ramps before the Interstate 290/Congress Parkway off-ramp! This first ramp is for Ogden Avenue (former U.S. 34-66). Photo taken 09/04/05.
Prior to the reconstruction of the Kennedy Expressway, there were many on/off ramps incoming/outgoing on both sides of the freeway, on both the left and right sides. Most left exits are now gone on southbound Kennedy Expressway. The left exits were a design feature unique to the Dan Ryan Expressway and Kennedy Expressway in the immediate vicinity of the loop (good maps of downtown Chicago will show this level of detail on the ramp configuration). Now there are still left entrances, but not as many left exits. Eastbound (southbound) Interstate 90-94/Kennedy Expressway reach Exit 51C, Washington Boulevard. The transition ramps to Interstate 290 and Congress Parkway are one-half mile ahead. Photo taken 09/04/05.
Eastbound Interstate 90-94/Kennedy Expressway reaches Exit 51G, Jackson Boulevard eastbound. The next exit is Exits 51H-I, Junction Interstate 290/Eisenhower Expressway west and Congress Parkway to Chicago Loop eastbound. Photo taken 09/04/05.
The ramps for Exits 51H-I depart together for Interstate 290/Eisenhower Expressway west and Congress Parkway/Chicago Loop east. Congress Parkway continues a short distance to its end at Grant Park. There are ramps before that conclusion for Franklin Street and Wacker Drive however. Interstate 290 sees its first interchange at Morgan Street/Exit 29B just to the west. The replacement signs for this are shown in the next photobox. Photo taken by Don Hargraves (07/02).
A look at the Exit 51H/Interstate 290 west and Exit 51I/Congress Parkway east split from Interstates 90/94 west. The Eisenhower Expressway departs the city limits of Chicago six miles to the west. From here, the Kennedy Expressway ends and the Dan Ryan Expressway carries Interstate 90-94 east/outbound toward the South Suburbs and Indiana, including access to both Interstate 57/Dan Ryan Extension and Interstate 65 south to Kentucky, Tennessee, and Alabama. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (05/26/03).

Sources:

  1. 1956 Congress Expressway Opened--Renamed Dwight D. Eisenhower Expressway on January 10, 1964 http://www.chipublib.org/004chicago/
    timeline/eisenhowerx.html
    , Chicago Public Library, updated February 2006.
  2. Encyclopedia of Chicago: Expressways by Dennis McClendon of the Chicago Historical Society
  3. Kuznicki, Scott. "I-290 update: OPENING SOON!" Online posting, misc.transport.road, September 24, 2003.
  4. "Circle Interchange renamed in honor of former Mayor Jane Byrne." Chicago Tribune, August 29, 2014.
  5. "$500M Makeover Plan For Old Post Office - Work to Begin Immediately." Gold Coast Realty - Chicago web site.

Page Updated July 26, 2016.