So, the new tollway opens on Sunday, you may be asking, if you are not from Will County, "What will it do? It just looks like more sprawl to me."
Not so is it more sprawl at all. It is in response to development that has already been built. Will County has over 600,000 people now, and the majority of them live in the northern townships: Wheatland, DuPage, Plainfield, Lockport, Homer, Troy, Joliet, New Lenox, and Frankfort, and growing toward the south.
So what will I-355 do for us?
I-355 will do several things:
1. There are limited number of bridges across the Des Plaines River between Joliet and the Tri-State Tollway in Willow Springs. There are exactly 4 of them: 9th Street - Lockport, 135th Street, Lemont Road, and Illiois 83. One of these is only 2 lanes, the other three are 4 lane bridges. All have traffic lights at their ends. I-355 will add a 6 lane bridge across the river at the midway point between all 4 bridges with no signals to stop anyone. This will vastly improve crossing the river, especially toward the north.
2. Lemont Road, Cedar Road, Bell Road, Joliet Road are all overburdened with traffic right now. A lot of the traffic on Joliet Road crosses the river at 135th Street and 9th Street, causing major traffic delays during rush hour. I-355 will pull this traffic away from these roads and let it off at the 4 interchanges along the route. There will be an increase in traffic along 127th Street, 143rd Street, 159th Street, and maybe Southwest Highway as well, but this will be more than offset by the removal of traffic from the overburdened north-south arteries.
3. Regional connector. This will provide a bypass of the Tri-State Tollway for through traffic between I-90 and I-80. I-355 can allieviate some of the traffic congestion on the Tri-State between these two interstates, and maybe improve a few travel times there as well.
4. Alternate route. I-355 cannot come too soon as IDOT is widening I-55 between I-80 and Weber Road. Traffic will now be able to avoid most of the construction zone by taking I-80 east to I-355 north.
So, as you can see, I-355 does have a purpose, and not a minor one at that. Now if only Lake County and McHenry County can start the north extentions.