The Tri-State Tollway, which carries Interstate 294 from Lansing northwest to Deerfield, was constructed starting in 1956 and was completed by 1958.2 This construction of the 83-mile Tri-State Tollway (and the other original tollways) was funded by a bond issuance in the amount of $415 million by the state tollway commission.4 All of the urban tollways (including the Tri-State Tollway, the Northwest Tollway, the easternmost portion of the East-West Tollway, and the Chicago Skyway) were open to traffic by 1958.
Interstate 294 previously continue east from its present end at I-94/IL 394 into Northwest Indiana. The original Chicago Interstate system outlined Interstate 90 following the Calumet (Bishop Ford) expressway south to Interstate 80 (Kingery Expressway) near Lansing. Interstate 94 was planned to follow the Chicago Skyway and Indiana Toll Road through Gary. I-294 combined with I-80/90 east to Hobart and the Indiana Toll Road where I-94 and I-80/90 switched places. A grand renumbering took place in 1963, with I-90 relocated onto the Chicago Skyway and Indiana Toll Road, I-94 moved southward onto the Borman and Kingery Expressways, and north along the Calumet Expressway into Chicago, and I-294 retracted to the end of the Tri-State Tollway at IL 394/I-94.
A $238 million expansion project widened the tollway to eight overall lanes. The expansion of Interstate 294 from IL 394 north to the 163rd Street Toll Plaza was delayed several times; with an announcement by the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority on September 18, 2003, that construction was pushed back to 2005 (as compared to an original proposed construction date in late 2003 or early 2004).
The decision to delay was based upon the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) postponement of the companion “Kingery Expressway: On the Move to Improve” widening project on Interstate 80 near the Indiana state line.1 The first phase of widening I-294 from the interchange with IL 394 south and I-94 north to 167th Street began in January 2005 and was completed in Fall 2006. The second phase, which included expanding the Tri-State Tollway between U.S. 6 (159th Street) and U.S. 12-20 (95th Street), began in 2007.3