The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) initiated the Eisenhower Expressway (I-290) Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) Study in Fall 2009. This study has been developed based upon taking a fresh look at transportation needs through an extensive public involvement process.
Although some research and solutions have been identified in the past, much has changed, such as traffic and change in travel patterns. This planning study is taking an updated look at the formal analysis of transportation needs. Depending on the findings of the needs analysis, additional studies, such as the identification of alternatives to address those needs, and an analysis of engineering and environmental impacts, may follow over the next three years.
The study will follow the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process and will involve the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which is expected to take approximately three years to complete. NEPA is a federal law that requires federally funded projects to evaluate a range of alternatives - including doing nothing, known as “No Build” - and asses the impacts of those alternatives on the environment. It also requires agencies proposing a project to consider input from the public before making a final recommendation.
View a larger version of the planning process graphic [pdf / 2.1 MB]
The first step of the planning process is to analyze and understand the existing and future travel conditions, and define the Purpose and Need for improvements. Step 1 tasks include collecting information on current conditions, identifying future population and employment growth in the area, and then estimating future travel demand. This data will help to evaluate the performance of the existing transportation system under future conditions. All this information will allow IDOT and stakeholders to identify transportation deficiencies and begin the process for developing solutions to address these needs. Following the data collection and analysis phase, the study will proceed with the development of the specific Purpose and Need that will guide the identification and evaluation of improvement alternatives.
The results of step 1 have been published in the Existing System Transportation Performance (ESTP) report. View the report.
Since the 1950’s, travel demands have increased and changed due to population shifts and growth. Northeastern Illinois (Chicago and its surrounding counties: Cook, DuPage, Lake, Kane, McHenry and Will) had the highest growth of any counties in Illinois, accounting for 84% of the state’s growth during the 1990s. Chicago’s share of the region’s population declined over the past few decades. However, suburban Cook County increased its population, with a greater increase in DuPage County (15.7%) and in Kane County (27.3%), and thus the suburbs together would equal the fourth largest metropolitan area in the nation. It is estimated that between years 2000 and 2030 the region’s population will grow by 1.8 million people, which is significantly faster than previous decades. This will drive the need for improved transportation.
Congestion and travel delays have been growing in Northeastern Illinois.
The next step after the development of the Purpose and Need in the study process is to work with the public and project stakeholders to identify possible improvement alternatives and potential evaluation criteria. This phase concludes with the selection of those improvement alternatives that should be evaluated in detail. Under the provisions of NEPA, alternatives, including the “no build” alternative, will be examined during this process and impacts to the surrounding community and environment will be evaluated. Public involvement and context sensitivity will continue to be applied throughout this part of the study.