The future of the stretch of Eisenhower Expressway running through Oak Park remains very much up for grabs, with lane additions, controversial ramp renovations and tolling options all on the table.
Illinois Department of Transportation officials say they're still conceptualizing the project, which is years away from actually getting started. Right now, ten scenarios are on the table for the eight-mile corridor between Cicero Avenue and Mannheim Road, all of which include the addition of a lane in each direction. Five scenarios will make it to the next round of planning.
Oak Park leaders say feedback about the Eisenhower plans is crucial, particularly before public comments on the latest report close on June 29. (There are two ways to do that, officials say — visiting IDOT's official feedback page or e-mailing Mark.Peterson@illinois.gov) The report accompanies this article as a PDF.
Officials in Oak Park have even created talking points, distributed on the village's e-mail list, which outline the concerns raised by residents at a special Village Board meeting earlier this month.
Already, the movement seems to be gaining traction. On Thursday, a citizen group called Citizens for Appropriate Transportation, led by former , began rallying for alternatives to IDOT's plans. Their June 21 letter to IDOT accompanies this story as a PDF document.
Also this week, Oak Park architect David Moehring floated in a Wednesday Journal editorial the idea of a bullet train.
"Different from the other transit options, the express service would specifically target vehicle commuters between major locations such as O'Hare, Midway, McCormick Place, suburban expressway intersections, and the Loop," he writes. "The Ike's station — call it the 'Bullet Train Oasis' — could be located near the heart of the corridor where I-88 and I-294 intersect the Ike."
Village officials and residents have long been calling for a "multi-modal" solution, one that includes a westward extension of CTA Blue Line service into the far west suburbs.
According to Chicago Transit Authority statistics, the number of recorded rides on the Forest Park branch of the Blue Line, defined as the stretch between the Forest Park and Clinton stops, is up. Last year, nearly 9.2 million rides were recorded, an 8.6 percent increase from 2010.
That's a lot of cars off the road.
As plans for the Ike renovations unfold, we want to know what you think is best for the future of Oak Park as well as for regional commuters. Please vote in our poll or drop a line in the comments.