Why we oppose the Illiana Expressway
For almost 80 years, the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) has been a proactive force on the Chicago region’s civic stage, fighting for improvements that will help grow the economy, improve job access, reduce inequities and put us on a path to a sustainable future. Much of MPC’s work has promoted the region’s South Suburbs, from economic development and workforce housing to stormwater management and improved freight transportation.
In spring 2013, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) asked the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) to add the Illiana Expressway to the region’s GO TO 2040 long-term transportation plan, a requirement for the use of federal transportation dollars for the road. The Illiana is a proposed 47-mile highway that would connect I-55 and I-65 south of the developed sections of the Chicago region, in Illinois and Indiana. The road has been discussed for decades, but only been subject to an environmental review since 2010.
Because of the sheer size of the proposed project, both in terms of length and cost, MPC staff began an in-depth evaluation of the Expressway in May 2013. The results of that evaluation, summarized in our comments to CMAP about the project and detailed in a questions and answers document, provide clear evidence about the road’s costs and benefits.
MPC’s evaluation shows that IDOT’s projected $1.3 billion Illiana price tag, itself a potentially low figure, would result in almost no improvement in terms of congestion—including on roads in the surrounding area; would produce fewer than 1,000 long-term jobs; would expand the regional economy by an insignificant amount; and would effectively redistribute jobs and population from the center of the region, where GO TO 2040 argues growth should be prioritized, to the far south exurbs and Indiana.
Based on our research, MPC has determined that the Illiana would provide few benefits in exchange for high and uncertain costs. MPC opposes the Expressway’s inclusion in GO TO 2040. Read our media release for MPC's full analysis and opinion.
View our supporting documentation: