A former button copy end sign for Interstate 88. Photo by Don Hargraves (09/02).
Formerly IL 5, and before that IL 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 I-290 (Eisenhower Expressway) and I-294 (Tri-State Tollway) interchange near Hillside. Until 2004, the toll road section from Sterling east to Hillside was known as the East-West Tollway.
Interstate 88 provides an alternative to I-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.
Interstate 88 was commissioned in July 2, 1987,1 replacing former IL 5. AASHTO previously approved the designation subject to FHWA concurrence on May 25, 1987. 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 A similar process occurred with the unnumbered portion of the Kansas Turnpike, which was designated Interstate 335 to allow for 65 MPH speed limits.
The section of Interstate 88 (East-West Tollway) from I-290 (Eisenhower Expressway) west to Aurora was built between 1956 and 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 opened was 69 miles long, from IL 56 in Aurora west to IL 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 as complete in 1974. The Illinois Department of Transportation built the remainder of the highway from the interchange with IL 40 west to the Quad Cities in the 1970s; this section is toll free.
The first segment of the East-West Tollway (Aurora to Chicago) was originally designated as U.S. 30 Toll. It was changed to IL 190 in 1965 and renumbered again to IL 5 in 1972 (before the extension to the Quad Cities was completed).