Interstate 294 Illinois

Interstate 294 Illinois
History
North End
South End

Overview

The Tri-State Tollway, Interstate 294 between Lansing and Deerfield, was designed initially as a bypass route around Chicago through suburban areas of Cook and DuPage Counties. However, I-294 became as important as any of the intercity expressways, as it connects the suburbs with O’Hare International Airport (ORD) and the rapidly expanded residential and business demands of the region. Avoiding much of the city, the Tri-State Tollway is a heavily traveled route with six to eight lanes for the majority of its length.

Route Information

  • North End – Deerfield, IL

  • South End – Lansing, IL

  • Mileage – 53.42*

  • Cities – Harvey, Westchester, Oak Lawn, Chicago

  • JunctionsI-80 I-94 I-55 I-88 I-290 I-190 I-90

Source: December 31, 2018 Interstate Route Log and Finders List
* – 5.32 miles on I-80

I-80/294 east at Thorton Quarry

The Tri-State Tollway takes I-80/294 across the Hanson Aggregrates-Thorton Quarry between IL 1 (Halsted Street) and I-94/IL 394 (Bishop Ford Freeway). Photo by Peter Johnson (05/30/20).

I-80/294 at Hanson Aggregrates-Thorton Quarry

Extending across both sides of the Tri-State Tollway, the Hanson Aggregrates-Thorton Quarry is several square miles wide. A steel girder bridge spans a small portion of the quarry. Photo by Don Hargraves (2001).

History

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

North End I-94 – Deerfield, Illinois

I-294 North at I-94

I-294 north at I-94 - Northbrook, IL

The Tri-State Tollway curves northeast from the IL 68 (Dundee Road) overpass one mile to Lake-Cook Road (Exit 52) and the merge with I-94 at the Edens Spur. Photo by Peter Johnson (06/25/16).

I-294 north at I-94 - Northbrook, IL

Lake-Cook Road is a major arterial that straddles the Lake and Cook County lines for 17 miles from Dear Park to Deerfield. Ramps connect with Lake-Cook Road from both I-94 and I-294, with each exit numbered based on their respective mileage. Photo by Peter Johnson (06/25/16).

I-294 north at I-94 - Northbrook, IL

Exit 52 departs I-294 north for Lake-Cook Road while four lanes continue directly onto Interstate 94 west. A slip ramp beyond the wye interchange with I-94 provides access to nearby Deerfield Road (Exit 24). Photo by Peter Johnson (06/25/16).

I-294 north at I-94 - Northbrook, IL

Interstate 294 concludes a 52-mile course through the greater Chicago metro area as I-94 westbound overtakes the Tri-State Tollway. The toll road extends another 24 miles north to the merge with I-41/U.S. 41. Photo by Peter Johnson (06/25/16).

I-94 East at I-294

I-94 east at I-294 - Riverwoods, IL

Interstate 94 turns east from the Tri-State Tollway in two miles along the Edens Spur to U.S. 41. Photo by Peter Johnson (05/30/20).

I-94 east at I-294 - Deerfield, IL

Continuing south, the Tri-State Tollway passes between Riverwoods and Deerfield to the Deerfield Road entrance ramp. The succeeding exits connect with both Lake Cook Road and the Edens Spur. Photo by Peter Johnson (05/30/20).

I-94 east at I-294 - Deerfield, IL

Interstate 94 branches east with two lanes as I-294 commences southwest with three lanes beyond Exit 25A to Lake Cook Road. The Tri-State Tollway bypasses Chicago and is the best route for through traffic, especially during commuting hours. Photo by Peter Johnson (05/30/20).

I-94 east at I-294 - Deerfield, IL

Interstate 94 crosses the Cook County line at the forthcoming Lake Cook Road overpass. I-94 arcs east around Northbrook to Skokie and the Windy City. Photo by Peter Johnson (05/30/20).

I-94 east at I-294 - Deerfield, IL

The Edens Spur and Tri-State Tollway separate at a wye interchange (Exit 25B). Photo by Peter Johnson (05/30/20).

I-294 south at I-94 - Northbrook, IL

I-294 (Tri-State Tollway) straddles western reaches of Cook County to Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) and Elmhurst. Photo by Peter Johnson (05/30/20).

I-294 south at I-94 - Northbrook, IL

The first confirming marker for Interstate 294 south. Photo by Peter Johnson (05/30/20).

I-94 West at I-294

I-94 west at I-294 - Deerfield, IL

Exiting the Edens Spur main line toll plaza, westbound Interstate 94 approaches Exit 24 for Deerfield Road and the wye interchange with the Tri-State Tollway. 06/13/15

I-94 west at I-294 - Deerfield, IL

Turning north below the ending I-294 northbound mainline, I-94 west partitions with the off-ramp (Exit 24) for Deerfield Road to the villages of Riverwoods and Deerfield. 06/13/15

I-94 west at I-294 - Deerfield, IL

Exit 24 separates from I-94 west through a single lane tunnel with a 14 foot clearance below the Tri-State Tollway. 06/13/15

I-94 west at I-294 - Deerfield, IL

Interstate 94 overtakes the Tri-State Tollway with two lanes as traffic from I-294 merges from the right. 06/13/15

I-294 North End Throwback

I-94 east at I-294 - 2002

Two miles north of the I-94/294 split at Riverwoods. Photo by Don Hargraves (06/02).

I-294 north at I-94 - 2006

Additional lanes were added to the Tri-State Tollway north at the merge with the Edens Spur in the early 2010s. Ramps for Lake-Cook Road and Deerfield Road were numbered 52 and 24 respectively by 2015. Photo by Steve Hanudel (05/14/06).

South End I-80 I-94 U.S. 6 Illinois 394 – Lansing, Illinois

I-80 East I-294 South at I-94 IL 394

I-80/294 east at IL 1 - East Hazel Crest

I-80/294 combine along the southernmost section of the Tri-State Tollway. The toll road runs east between the city of Harvey and the village of East Hazel Crest to L 1 (Halsted Street). Photo by Peter Johnson (05/30/20).

I-80/294 east at I-94/IL 394 - Thornton

The last confirming marker for I-294 south stands along the Tri-State Tollway east in the village of Thornton. Photo by Peter Johnson (05/30/20).

I-80/294 east at I-94/IL 394 - Thornton

Advancing past the Hanson Aggregrates-Thorton Quarry west of Vincennes Road, the Tri-State Tollway approaches the systems interchange with the Bishop Ford Freeway. Photo by Peter Johnson (05/30/20).

I-80/294 east at I-94/IL 394 - Thornton

The Chicago Southland Lincoln Oasis precedes the Exit 0 for the Bishop Ford Freeway. The final service plaza on the Tri-State Tollway southbound houses the Illinois and Chicago Southland Welcome Center. Photo by Peter Johnson (05/30/20).

I-80/294 east at I-94/IL 394 - Thornton

Two lanes separate from I-80/294 eastbound for Interstate 94 leading north to Chicago and IL 394 south to Crete and Danville. Photo by Peter Johnson (05/30/20).

I-80/294 east at I-94/IL 394 - Lansing

The zero milepost for Interstate 294 within the three level interchange with the Bishop Ford Freeway. The Tri-State Tollway ends and the Kingery Expressway begins here. Photo by Peter Johnson (05/30/20).

I-80/294 east at I-94/IL 394 - Lansing

An end sign appears for I-294 below the high speed flyover connecting the Tri-State Tollway with Interstate 94 (Bishop Ford Freeway) north through South Holland, Dolton and south Chicago. Photo by Peter Johnson (05/30/20).

I-80 I-94 West at I-294 IL 394

I-80/94 west at US 41 - Hammond, IN

Heading west on the Frank Borman Expressway, I-80/94-U.S. 6 split with U.S. 41 north at Calumet Avenue in Hammond, Indiana. I-80/94 proceed two miles west from Exit 1 to the systems interchange (Exit 160) with the Bishop Ford Freeway. 05/24/08

I-80/94 west at I-294/IL 394 - Lansing, IL

Crossing into Illinois, the Borman Expressway becomes the Kingery Expressway. A collector distributor roadway separates next for the continuation of I-94 north to Chicago and for IL 394 south to Crete and Danville. 05/24/08

I-80/94 west at I-294/IL 394 - Lansing, IL

I-294 appears for the first time along I-80 west just ahead of Exit 160 for the Bishop Ford Freeway. The massive reconstruction of the Kingery Expressway included the addition of the c/d roadway network extending east beyond Torrence Avenue (U.S. 6/IL 83). 05/24/08

I-80/94 west at I-294/IL 394 - Lansing, IL

Interstate 94 west splits with I-80 along a three-lane c/d roadway. I-80 combines with I-294 along the eight-lane Tri-State Tollway beyond the adjacent SPUI (Exit 161) with Torrence Avenue. 05/24/08

I-94 East at I-80 I-294 IL 394

I-94 east at US 6 - Dolton, IL

The initial sign for I-80/294 and IL 394 appears along I-94 eastbound at the 154th Street overpass in the village of Dolton. 05/09/10

I-94 east at US 6 - South Holland, IL

U.S. 6 (159th Street) meets I-94 (Bishop Ford Freeway) at a cloverleaf interchange (Exits 73A/B) one mile north of the Kingery Expressway. U.S. 6 turns south through Lansing to combine with I-80/94 via Torrence Avenue. 05/09/10

I-94 east at I-80-294/IL 394 - South Holland, IL

Reconstruction of the Kingery Expressway also added a fourth southbound lane to the Bishop Ford Freeway leading to the separation with IL 394. 05/09/10

I-94 east at I-80-294/IL 394 - South Holland, IL

The Interstate 94 mainline maintains two lanes as it branches southeast to merge with the Kingery Expressway (I-80) to Hammond, Indiana. IL 394 continues the Bishop Ford Freeway south to Crete via Exit 74A. 05/09/10

I-94 east at I-80-294/IL 394 - South Holland, IL

Exit 74B follows from IL 394 south for Interstate 80 west to Joliet and the Tri-State Tollway north to the Chicago western suburbs. 05/09/10

IL 394 North at I-80 I-94 I-294

IL 394 north at Glenwood Dyer Rd - Lynwood, IL

IL 394 (Bishop Ford Freeway) proceeds three miles north from Glenwood Dyer Road to the systems interchange with I-80/294 (Tri-State Tollway) west and I-80/94 (Kingery Expressway) east. 09/03/05

IL 394 north at I-80/94/294 - Glenwood, IL

IL 394 travels through the Cook County Forest Preserve two miles ahead of I-80, I-94 and I-294. 09/03/05

I-294 South End Throwback

I-80 East I-294 South at I-94 IL 394

I-80/294 east at I-94/IL 394 - 2001

Prior to reconstruction, a cloverleaf interchange joined I-80/294 and the south end of the Tri-State Tollway with the Calumet Expressway (I-94 north / IL 394 south). Photo by Eric W. Vander Yacht (04/01).

I-80/294 east at I-94/IL 394 - 2000

The previous end sign for I-294 preceded the loop ramp (Exit 160) from I-80/294 east to the inbound Calumet Expressway. Photo by Stephen Summers (12/00)

I-80 I-94 West at I-294 IL 394

I-80/94 west at I-294/IL 394 - 2001

The Kingery Expressway west at the original cloverleaf interchange (Exit 161) with U.S. 6 west and IL 83 (Torrence Avenue). Photo by Eric W. Vander Yacht (04/01).

I-80/94 west at I-294/IL 394 - 2001

The single lane c/d roadway from Torrence Avenue added a fourth westbound lane for I-80/94 to the split at Exit 160B. Photo by Eric W. Vander Yacht (04/01).

I-80/94 west at I-294/IL 394 - 2001

Interstate 80 west continued with just two lanes from the Kingery Expressway onto the Tri-State Tollway and I-294. Photo by Eric W. Vander Yacht (04/01).

I-80/94 west at I-294/IL 394 - 2003

Westbound at the split of I-94 north to Chicago and I-80 west to Joliet. No advance signs referenced the adjacent loop ramp (Exit 160A) for IL 394 south to Crete. Photo by Chris Patriarca (05/25/03).

I-94 East at I-80 I-294 IL 394

I-94 east at I-80-294/IL 394 - 2002

Approaching the E 170th Street overpass and I-80/294 on I-94 eastbound. Expansion of the Bishop Ford Freeway here included an additional lane and sound walls separating I-94 from parallel Prince Drive. Photo by Brian Dowd (11/02).

I-94 east at I-80-294/IL 394 - 2002

Traffic separated for I-94 east to I-80 (Kingery Expressway) and IL 394 south to I-80/294 west. Danville, located far south beyond the end of IL 394 at the cross roads of IL 1 and I-74 in downstate Illinois. Photo by Brian Dowd (06/02).

I-94 east at I-80-294/IL 394 - 2002

I-94 previously merged with the left side of I-80 eastbound. This connection was relocated to merge on the right, with a slip ramp linking to the SPUI at Torrence Avenue. Photo by Brian Dowd (06/02).

IL 394 North at I-80 I-94 I-294

IL 394 north at I-80/94/294 - 2002

One mile from the cloverstack interchange with the Tri-State Tollway and Kingery Expressway on IL 394 (Calumet Expressway) north. The concrete roadways here were paved over with asphalt in 1990. Signs were replaced by 2009. Photo by Brian Dowd (10/26/02).

IL 394 north at I-80/94/294 - 2002

The north end of IL 394 was improved during the Kingery Expressway project. A third lane opens ahead of the Thornton Road overpass, with the roadway rebuilt using concrete. A sign bridge posted to the south replaced this overhead assembly. Photo by Brian Dowd (06/02).

IL 394 north at I-80/94/294 - 2002

I-80/94 combine along the Kingery Expressway eastbound through Lansing to the Borman Expressway into Hammond, Indiana. IL 394 north transitions onto Interstate 94 westbound to Dolton and Chicago. Photo by Brian Dowd (06/02).

IL 394 north at I-80/94/294 - 2002

A loop ramp joins I-80 west and the northbound beginning of Interstate 294 along the Tri-State Tollway. Photo by Brian Dowd (06/02).

Sources:

  1. “Tollway delays Tri-State widening until ’05.” Chicago Sun-Times, September 19, 2003.
  2. Encyclopedia of Chicago: Expressways by Dennis McClendon of the Chicago Historical Society.
  3. “South Tri-State Tollway (I-294) Rebuild & Widen.” – Illinois Tollway web site.
  4. Encyclopedia of Chicago: Tollways by David M. Young of the Chicago Historical Society.

Page updated November 2, 2020.