Interstate 355; Veterans Memorial Tollway ExtensionRoads of the Mid-South & West > Highways of the State of Illinois > Interstate 355; Veterans Memorial Tollway Extension

At midnight Monday, November 12, 2007 the 12-mile extension opened. It connected I-55 to I-80.

In November, 2004, Illinois State Governor Rod Blagojevich lead the ground break of the long planned southern extension to Interstate 355; Veterans Memorial Tollway. This will run from the current southern end point of I-355 at I-55, to Interstate 80, east of Cedar Road, near New Lenox. The total lenght of the extention will be 12.5 miles.

Over the year, traffic through Will County has gotten thicker. Many towns and residents have pushed for the highway to be constructed. This highway will make residents of Will County and the southwestern suburbs have a quicker way to get into Cook and Du Page Counties. The Northern Illinois Planning Commission estimates travel times will drop by 12 to 15 minutes. Locally travel times will drop by 6 to 9 minutes. Fuel costs for area truck drivers could be redueced by $1,200.

Jobs growth is projected to happen across Will County with the extension. The U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, 2003, estimates 35, 625 construction jobs with the tollway would be created. 17,955 of those would be directly with the construction. In Will County, the Will County Center for Economic Development says 150,000 manufacturing, disibution, white collar, and service jobs, would come to the area by 2030.

This project would be paid by the people who use the tollways in Illinois, and with no federal or state tax dollars.

The roadway is set to open by 2007.

In the 12.5 miles of the extention there will be 5 interchanges. They are at...
127th Street
143rd Street/IL St Rt 171 (Archer Ave)
159th Street/IL St Rt 7
Southwest Highway/U.S. Rt. 6

Besides five interchange and the re-working of the I-55 interchange, there will be a one and half mile-long bridge. It will go over hte Des Plaines River, Bluuf Road, the Cook County Forest Preserve, Com Ed utility corridor, Sanitary and shipping Canal, I&M Canal, various railroads, and New Avenue.


Below is a photo tour of the Southern Extension.
I-80 to I-55.
Click which direction to take the tour along I-355.
Northbound I-355 Southbound I-355

Below is a photo tour of the Southern Extension.
I-80 to Des Plaines River Valley Bridge.
These photos were taken one month prior to the highway being opened to traffic.
Click which direction to take the tour along I-355.
Northbound I-355 Southbound I-355

A sign on NB Cedar Road in New Lenox. (June 2005)

A sign on 143rd St that is located at all the intersections of I-355. (Nov. 2005)

A sign on SB I-355 at I-55. (Mar. 2007)
This project was ranked the #1 project from Road and Bridges Magazine.

Starting the first week of April, 2005, construction entrances will be placedon Cedar Road, U.S. Rt. 6, and Bruce Road. The second week of the same April, work will be focused around 167th Street, Gougar Road, 163rd Street, and 159th Street.*

The toll highway authority has held public meetings to inform and get input from the public on how the tollway extention will co-exist with the surounnding area. The highway will be at ground level with the roads going over it. Land on the eastside of the tollway will be used for a trail.**

Officials around the 12 mile extension will have to foot the bill if they want and changes to the current plans that the ISTHA has for I-355. Some officials want the overpasses for 143rd Street and 135th Street widened. Will County is currently reneqotiating it's intergovernmental agreement with the ISTHA. County officals think the cost for bigger overpasses is something that a deal can be reached on. The plans for these overpasses are the ones that were made in 1990. Since then the landscape of the area has changed.***

In Mid-January work should begin on the piers and drainage system for the one and a half mile long bridge over the Des Plaines River Valley. Around March work on the sturcture shoulde begin and be finished by October, 2005. This bridge will be the longest on the toll highways system. In Late November, Chicago-based Walsh Contruction was awarded the $124.9 million contract for the Des Plaines River Valley crossing project. The tollway authority saves about $8.5 million by allowing the bidding companies to design the bridge instead of construction one that was already chosen. All desgins included in the bids still had to meet tollway speifications and get board approval.****

On February 12, 2007 the North-South Tollway was re-named the Veteran Memorial Tollway. Lt. Governor Pat Quinn joined with Sen. Louis S. Viverito (D-Burbank) to announce the introduction of new legislation to rename the North-South I-355 Tollway the “Veterans Memorial Tollway”. Sen. Viverito, a Korean War veteran, is the chief sponsor of the legislation.*****

Veterans Day 2007 will be the day I-55 and I-80 are finally linked east of Joliet. The ISTHA is targeting November 11 to officially open the new leg of the Veterans Memorial Tollway. A ceremony will be held near the 127th Street interchange in Lemont. This is the first new roadway in the ISTHA's system in nearly 20 years.******

Pictures from the extention...

I-355 at I-80

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Cedar Road at I-80
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Cedar Road at I-355
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I-355 at U.S. 6
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NB I-355 at 175th St.
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NB I-355 at 167th St.
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I-355 at Gougar Rd
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I-355 at 163rd St.
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I-355 at IL 7
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I-355 at 151st St
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I-355 at 143rd St
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I-355 at IL 171
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I-355 at 127th St
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I-355 Des Plaines River Valley Bridge
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I-355 at Internationale Parkway
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I-55 at I-355
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*Drivers will face I-355 project. (Joliet Herald-News 2 April 2005)
**Forum held on I-355 extension (Joliet Herald-News 24 April 2005)
***Extra lanes cost more (Joliet Herald-News 6 July 2005)
****I-355 contract awarded (Joliet Herald-News 2 December, 2005)
***** VETERANS MEMORIAL TOLLWAY Quinn Introduces Legislation to Honor Illinois Military Veterans (Illinois Government News Network 12 February 2007)
******Interstate 355 extension set to open Veterans Day (Kankakee Daily Jounal 31 August 2007)

5 January 2011