Crain’s Chicago Business: Western access to O’Hare gets a little closer
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Another piece in the puzzle of opening western road access to O’Hare International Airport fell into place today when the Illinois Tollway board approved a memo of understanding with Union Pacific Railroad for a needed land transfer for the Elgin-O’Hare Expressway on the airport’s western and southern edge.
The tollway previously had reached another, much harder-fought deal with the Canadian Pacific Railway to cross part of its Bensenville Yards land. But permission also was needed from the UP to cross tracks the railroad operates near O’Hare.
Details of the land exchange and whether money was paid were not immediately available. Officials said they now expect to complete negotiations and sign a final contract early next year.
The Elgin-O’Hare Expressway would run from I-90 south and west past the airport to intersect with Interstate 294.
An actual entrance into O’Hare—potentially including a terminal and transit link to the main terminal complex to the east—is being discussed by officials from Chicago and Cook County, but appears at a minimum to be several years off. Still, officials hope to spur development to the west that occurred a generation ago to the east in Rosemont, and to ease traffic congestion in the O’Hare area.
The tollway action is getting a cheer from U.S. Sens. Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin, and Reps. Raja Krishnamoorthi and Mike Quigley, all Democrats.
From a joint statement, “The Elgin-O’Hare Western Access project is vital to our regional, state and national transportation network and we are pleased that the Illinois Tollway Authority, Canadian Pacific Railway and Union Pacific Railway have finally come together to take this critical step today. Thanks to this project, thousands of jobs for hardworking Illinoisans will be created and the region will be better positioned to compete in our modern economy.”