Interstate 494 Illinois
The designation of Interstate 494 was proposed twice in Chicago, first for Lake Shore Drive and later for the Crosstown Expressway. Neither of the two Interstate 494 routes was built, although the "Ohio Street Extension" of the Kennedy Expressway (Interstate 90-94) in Chicago was signed as part of Interstate 494 for a short time in the 1960s as part of the connection from Lake Shore Drive to Interstate 94.2
Lake Shore Drive
One proposal for Interstate 494 was to improve Lake Shore Drive into an Interstate-standard expressway facility. Lake Shore Drive, which carries U.S. 41 through Chicago, was originally constructed in 1933 from Belmont Avenue north to Foster Avenue. This prototype expressway was among the first to feature certain limited access features such as diamond interchanges. The parkway was extended south toward the Loop. Planners called for Lake Shore Drive to be brought up to Interstate standards with an expressway connection from Interstate 94 to Lake Michigan at both the south and north ends of Lake Shore Drive. The connecting routes (Stony Island Road from Interstate 94/Bishop Ford Expressway and vicinity of Foster Avenue or Peterson Avenue from Interstate 94/Edens Expressway) from Lake Shore Drive were never built. Additionally, Lake Shore Drive itself was not Interstate standards, and today the route remains substandard. The Rand McNally maps of Chicago showed Interstate 494 cosigned with U.S. 41 in the 1969 and 1972 Chicago and Vicinity maps. It is not clear if this route was ever signed on U.S. 41/Lake Shore Drive.
The Crosstown Expressway, which was planned as Interstate 494 but was not as common on road maps of the era as the Lake Shore Drive routing, was a proposed urban freeway loop offering an alternate route around downtown. The expressway would have begun at Interstate 94/Dan Ryan Expressway near 75th Street and follow the 75th Street corridor west via the Belt Railway of Chicago. Turning north, Interstate 494/Crosstown Expressway would have followed a north-south corridor that would run parallel to Kolmar Avenue (which is located a few blocks east of Illinois 50/Cicero Avenue). The projected path of Interstate 494 was to continue northward along the Belt Railway of Chicago corridor, roughly following Kenton Avenue to Interstates 90-94 at the point where the Edens Expressway splits from the Kennedy Expressway. The routing appears on a 1971 Chicago and vicinity ENCO road map. The Crosstown Expressway was killed for local community opposition, environmental concerns, and a national concern about the effects of constructing freeways in urban areas. Funds for Interstate 494 were officially traded in for additional transit funds shortly after the 1976 death of then-Mayor Richard J. Daley.1
The Crosstown Expressway was planned to end at Interstate 90 (Dan Ryan Expressway) where the 75th Avenue diamond interchange currently resides (Exit 59C). Currently no photos are available. If you have one to share, feel free to email us.
The north end of the Crosstown Expressway brought Interstate 494 to a conclusion at the Interstate 90-94 (Kennedy Expressway) split. The freeway would directly tie into the Edens & Kennedy Expressway split (Exit 43A). Currently no photos are available. If you have one to share, feel free to email us.
Encyclopedia of Chicago: Expressways by Dennis McClendon of the Chicago Historical Society
- Moberly, Bob. "Interstate Guide Comment." Personal Email. January 4, 2008.
Page Updated April 22, 2008.