CHICAGO (CBS) -- The Illinois Tollway gathered with state, county and local officials Wednesday to mark the completion of the $780 million Illinois Route 390 Tollway Project.
Illinois Route 390, previously known as the Elgin–O'Hare Expressway, is 10 miles long and runs from Lake Street to Illinois Route 83. The completion paves the way for a new connection to O'Hare, which will allow for western access to the airport.
"This new Tollway will bring tremendous benefits to our regional transportation system, reducing congestion and improving the quality of life for people throughout the area," Gov. Bruce Rauner said. "The coordination between state, county and local governments is an unparalleled investment in our roads and builds a foundation for business and job growth."
Illinois Tollway Board Chairman Bob Schillerstrom said, now, they are marching east towards O'Hare.
"We are committed to working with the City of Chicago and the Chicago Department of Aviation to continue moving forward to complete the full project and deliver western access for all."
Schillerstrom adds that the new Tollway is expected to reduce travel time by more than seven minutes for the trip between the western side of O'Hare Airport and Lake Street -- a savings of 25 percent.
DuPage County Board chairman Dan Cronin calls the latest road opening a "meaningful step," but adds, "we aren't really going to be able to celebrate until we realize the full potential of this project, and that is gaining access to O'Hare Airport."
Officials believe that western access could result in 65,000 new permanent jobs from the expected growth.
Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) Comr. Ginger Evans says Chicago said she is committed to supporting a western access into O'Hare.
"As the City of Chicago takes major steps forward in modernizing O'Hare for the future, creating this additional point of access to O'Hare is absolutely critical to our goals of increasing efficiency as well as connectivity as the airport continues growth," she said.
Furthermore, Evans downplayed talk that some airlines have concerns about the economic feasibility of building airline facilities, such as a new terminal, on the west side of O'Hare.
The Illinois Route 390 Tollway Project took four years to complete. These improvements are part of the $3.4 billion Elgin-O'Hare Western Access Project, which is included in the Illinois Tollway's 15-year, $14 million capital program, Move Illinois: The Illinois Tollway Driving the Future.
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