Illiana Expressway

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Illiana Corridor
Route information
Length:50 mi (80 km)
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Illiana Corridor
Route information
Length:50 mi (80 km)

The Illiana Corridor is a proposed transportation corridor between northern portions of the U.S. states of Illinois and Indiana. Formal Environmental Impact Statement studies were begun in April 2011 and are being led jointly by the Illinois Department of Transportation and Indiana Department of Transportation. It is expected to be approximately 50 miles (80 km) in length; 10 miles (16 km) in Indiana, and 40 miles (64 km) in Illinois. The original Illiana Toll Road proposal continued the highway east of I-65 for another 40 miles (64 km), passing through Valparaiso before turning northeast and terminating at I-94 near Michigan City. There is little public support for the section east of I-65. Additionally, the Indiana Toll Road Lease Deal forbids construction of any competing freeway within 10 miles (16 km) of the Indiana Toll Road; the original Illiana routing would have intersected the Indiana Toll Road south of Michigan City in violation of the ITR lease agreement. Due to these factors, the Illiana Toll Road will not be built east of Interstate 65.

As proposed in the current Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement study, the corridor is expected to run from Interstate 55 in Illinois to Interstate 65 in Indiana. Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels earlier had proposed running the Illiana Toll Road east of I-65, southeast of Valparaiso, Indiana and Westville, Indiana, with its terminus south of Michigan City, Indiana at Interstate 94,[1] but scaled back that plan after local opposition.[2] It is now planned to start at Interstate 65 and continue west into Illinois, through an area where it has more public support.

Shortly after the Illiana Toll Road was announced, a group of citizens organized the opposition group Citizens Against the Privatized Illiana Toll Road (CAPIT).[3]

Daniels wrote a letter to lawmakers explaining changes to the Illiana Toll Road proposal:

Like you, I have been paying close attention to the vigorous public discussion around my proposal to explore new privately funded bypass roads in Northwest and Central Indiana. After legislative action to date, some forty public meetings, and lots of other open debate, it is clear to me that we are far from the degree of consensus that is necessary before embarking on major public works projects of high local impact.

Accordingly, I withdraw the suggestion that any action be taken on an Indiana Commerce Connector, or an Illiana Expressway east of I-65. Either of these ideas might benefit from further research, and I would welcome some form of that if your committees are so inclined. But the people of the affected areas have spoken clearly enough to persuade me that these ideas are, at best, premature.

By contrast, an Illiana bypass from I-65 west seems to be broadly supported and can, I hope, be given the chance to move forward.

I appreciate the citizenship of everyone who participated in these two debates. We must never be afraid to venture new ideas for fear of controversy; a state that does that will surely stagnate. But we must also never assume that every new idea is a good one, or imperative to act on immediately.

I hope that you will reshape the legislation along the above lines, but am happy to work with you on whatever approach you deem best for the interests of our state.[2]


The Illiana Toll Road would become the third east–west expressway to connect northeastern Illinois and northwest Indiana. In 1953, the Kingery-Borman expressway combination opened. Subsequently a part of Interstate 80, this route would become part of one of the most important coast-to-coast Interstate highways in the United States. The Chicago Skyway opened five years later, on April 16, 1958.[4] With the newly opened Indiana Toll Road, the Skyway and Toll Road became part of a second coast-to-coast Interstate highway, as Interstate 90 ran through city of Chicago proper.

The Skyway-Toll Road combination paralleled the shoreline of Lake Michigan, and was a popular road until the Dan Ryan Expressway opened in 1962, with Interstate 94 providing a free route from Chicago to northwestern Indiana. For a brief time in the 1970s and 1980s, the city of Chicago considered tearing down the Skyway because of escalating maintenance costs and falling traffic volumes.

All of the expressways were predated in the 1920s and 1930s by a host of numbered U.S. Highways and other arterial routes. The Dunes Highway, which later became U.S. Route 12, proved to be the busiest road between Chicago and Detroit in the 1920s and 1930s. The Dunes Relief Road, which became U.S. Route 20, was built to draw traffic off the Dunes Highway. Both were supplanted by I-94 when it was completed from Detroit to Chicago. U.S. 6, originally Ridge Road through Highland and Munster, Indiana, was routed onto the new expressway. U.S. 30 (Lincoln Highway), running about 5 miles (8 km) south of I-80/94, was routed through Dyer and Merrillville.

With the increase in truck traffic over time, all of the east–west expressways and arterials are expected to reach current levels of congestion in 15 years – even with the current reconstruction of the Borman and Kingery expressways. Construction of the Illiana Toll Road is expected to reduce truck traffic on U.S. 30 by 59 percent, and on I-80/94 by 22 percent.[1]

As of June 9, 2010, governors Pat Quinn of Illinois and Mitch Daniels of Indiana have brought the project to life. A bill was signed, SB3659, that will incorporate states partnering with private groups to plan, build, and maintain the proposed expressway. The Illinois Department of Transportation had three proposed alternative route locations in its Final Report published on April 30, 2010; however, the current study is looking at eight primary routes with several potential connecting points.[1]


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