Tollway OKs $1.7 Billion Budget, Including Funds for Western Access to O'Hare

Illinois TollwayThe Illinois Tollway board recently passed a $1.7 billion 2017 budget, which includes money for a building project to create western access to O'Hare International Airport , despite ongoing opposition from a Canadian railroad.

The Tollway plans to spend $374.5 million next year to continue construction of the Illinois Route 390 Tollway and to plan for the north-south I-490 Tollway. The toll roads would connect and provide western access to the airport.

Completing the projects requires the Tollway to build over Canadian Pacific Railway tracks on the airport's western edge, which the railroad has refused to allow. Last month, the Tollway filed a suit against Canadian Pacific with the U.S. Surface Transportation Board , so that the board can decide "on an expedited basis" to allow it to build five ramps over the tracks, the suit said.

The Tollway budget includes a capital program of $961.3 million , $405 million for debt service and $336 million for maintenance and operations. The budget is funded by bond proceeds, used for the capital program, plus $1.38 billion in revenues.

No new toll increases are expected this year, other than the third year of a planned increase for commercial vehicles.

The 2017 budget includes $6 million allocated for an environmental impact statement on a controversial proposal to extend I-53 into Lake County , something the Tollway has been considering since 2011. Another $6 million was spent in 2016 – the total study is expected to cost up to $50 million.

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