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.
The Central Tri-State Tollway (I-294) Project reconstructs and expands a 22 mile section of the toll road between Balmoral Avenue and 95th Avenue. Costing $4 billion, construction got underway in 2018 and extends through 2026. Work is partitioned into three sections:
Southern Section – I-55 to 95th Street
Started in 2019 and running through the end of 2023, construction expands I-294 to five lanes in each direction between I-55 and 95th Street. Work also reconstructs shoulders to accommodate Flex Lanes and rebuilds the Mile Long Bridge spanning the distribution center for UPS and BNSF Railway. An additional interchange joins the toll road with 88th/Cork Avenue at the Village of Justice. Improvements will also be made along the ramp linking I-55 to I-294 north, at overpasses for Willow Springs Road and 5th Avenue and at the Archer Avenue Interchange.
Central Section – St. Charles Road to I-55
Construction underway through 2026 rebuilds the Tri-State Tollway mainline. Work in 2022 removed the Hinsdale Oasis over-the-road pavilion to accommodate roadway expansion. The fuel stations and parking lots were retained. Major work started in 2020 reconfigures the I-290/I-88 Interchange at I-294. The BNSF Railroad span over I-294 was reconstructed and lengthened in 2022.
Additional improvements are made at the overpasses for St. Charles Road, Cermak Road, 31st Street, 47th Street, 55th Street, Plainfield Road and St. Charles Road over Interstate 290. Work also reconfigures the ramps along the east side of I-294 at the Ogden Avenue Interchange. Construction through the end of 2022 replaces the pedestrian bridge between the BSNF Railroad and Ogden Avenue with a new crossing adjacent to 47th Street.
Northern Section – Balmoral Avenue to St. Charles Road
Started in June 2018, work through the end of 2024 expands the Tri-State Tollway between Balmoral Avenue and North Avenue and reconstructs the shoulders to accommodate Flex Lanes. The O’Hare Oasis over-the-road pavilion was removed in 2019 to accommodate roadway expansion. The fuel stations and parking lots at the oasis however were retained.
Improvements are also being made to ramps connecting the O’Hare Oasis and Irving Park Road to Interstate 294, in addition to those as part of the North Avenue Interchange Project. Construction on the Northern Section also includes the I-490/I-294 Interchange supporting the new I-490 Tollway Project. Overpasses for Balmoral Road an Wolf Road are also reconstructed.