Transportation

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No mode of transportation is too unique, or for that matter, too mundane for Itasca to try.

Metra has long offered commuters the Milwaukee District West railroad running from Union Station in Chicago to Elgin, running right through Itasca and many of its neighbors.

In addition, the Illinois Tollway opened the $780 million, all-electronic I-390 Tollway in November 2017 to provide improved travel between Lake Street and Route 83, while also laying the groundwork for new western access to O’Hare International Airport.

Completion of the I-390 Tollway added 10 miles of free-flowing roadway with six new or improved interchanges, including a new free-flow I-290 interchange, and more than 13 lane miles of frontage roads to accommodate local traffic, according to a Tollway Authority spokesperson.

The new road is the Tollway system’s first all-electronic, cashless roadway, with no toll booths or coin baskets. Drivers without I-PASS pay their tolls online.

Since June 2018, traffic volumes on I-390 have increased substantially, with the majority of that growth occurring on the segment east of I-290, the spokesperson continued.

The average number of toll transactions on the eastern portion of I-390 increased by 11.6 percent in the first quarter of 2019, compared to the previous year, despite severe winter weather in early 2019. In June, traffic counts at individual toll plazas on the eastern segment increased between 10 percent and 19 percent for both cars and trucks, compared to June 2018 figures.

The Tollway expects traffic to continue increasing as work progresses on the connection to I-490, which will eventually provide a new link between I-90 and I-294.

The I-390 Tollway, when coupled with the new I-490 Tollway, will connect businesses and communities with one of the nation’s busiest airports, transit facilities, major freight hubs, distribution centers and multiple interstate highways, including I-90 and I-294.

The I-490 Tollway is being built to carry north-south traffic around the western border of O’Hare and provide access to O’Hare Airport. Together, the two new Tollways will provide 17 miles of new roads with 15 new or improved interchanges.

This year, the Tollway is continuing to build the interchange that will connect I-390 to I-490 at the western edge of O’Hare Airport.  The interchange is expected to be completed in 2023.

“We’re excited about the benefits this project is already providing to our customers by increasing mobility and improving access to the businesses and communities around O’Hare Airport,” said Tollway Executive Director José Alvarez.

“The new I-490 Tollway will trigger even more dramatic changes by creating for the first time western access into the airport and opening new links between other major highways in the region, including I-90 and I-294. We’re eager to keep pushing ahead and deliver these exciting improvements to our customers.”   

Once you are within Itasca’s borders there are even more options beyond using your personal vehicle, according to Dan Corcoran, Itasca’s Information Technology Director.

For instance, there is Itasca’s “Dash on Demand” fleet of vehicles that are currently providing “last mile” commuting services between the Itasca Metra station and Hamilton Lakes for $5 per person per ride.  It is hoped that the car service will continue to grow in number of vehicles and expand to provide additional services in the community, including making deliveries and providing other services to Itasca residents and businesses.

There is also the Itasca Zagster Bikeshare Program which offers bike rentals by the hour at an affordable rate. To use one of the bikes, based on Orchard Street or at Hamilton Lakes, you just download the app, choose a bike, unlock it and ride. The price is $1 for every 30 minutes. You pay as you go but monthly and annual plans are also available.

“This is a great option for those who want to commute via bicycle or even for those who want to ride during their lunch break,” Corcoran explained. “Busse Woods, the Itasca Nature Center and even the Salt Creek Greenway Trail are all excellent destinations for cyclists.”

Since 2007, Massachusetts-based Zagster has been at the forefront of the “micro-mobility” revolution.  Micro-mobility is a new concept that’s developing around new forms of transportation — e-bikes, e-scooters, and pedal bikes.