Illinois Roads - I-290


Some information on this page has been provided by J.P. Nasiatka.

I-290 EB beginning at I-90, first photo courtesy Scott Colbert. The roadway behind is IL 53, which multiplexes until Exit 4 before using Rohlwing Road, a surface arterial. That's when I-290 stops being so north-south and swings eastward toward Chicago (well, it takes a couple more exits). Note that Illinois likes its exit tabs to span the full width of the sign, like Georgia.

Westbound for a short stretch, courtesy Doug Kerr. Like the Seaford-Oyster Bay Expressway in New York, the Elgin-O'Hare Expressway doesn't make it to either of its purported destinations. It's really the Hanover Park-Elk Grove Expressway, and can't even manage an interchange with I-290. Instead, it has some stubs and ends up on Thorndale Ave. all the way to O'Hare International. (Airport.) And, um, the entrance is on the other side. Maybe that's why no one thinks it's that important to extend the highway all the way east.

Kill this new WB sign with fire. There is nothing to redeem.

All eastbound, first photo courtesy Scott Colbert and the others courtesy Doug Kerr.

The last sign is a little misleading - the entire right sign is for Exit 13A, but only the right half of the left sign is for Exit 15A. Due to space constraints in the suburbs, or maybe a little realignment trick, I-290 swings south to parallel I-294 for two miles, during which I-290 has a full cloverleaf (Exit 14) at St. Charles Road that I-294 swins out of the way for. In other news, three lanes go to I-355 and only two stay on I-290 because north-south traffic has been using IL 53 to I-290, and now would like to bypass Chicago, and that's what I-355 will do, while I-290 ends up darting into the heart of the city as the Eisenhower Expressway. Before I-355 was complete, IL 53 stayed on I-290 (there was no Exit 4, and no toll to worry about) to Exit 7, which was a stub from which 53 jogged right back to its surface street. These are both courtesy Scott Colbert.

Just after the last signs is this state-name shield, the last photo on this page from Scott Colbert. The SB I-294 ramp exits as two lanes. The left lane merges with I-294, and after a short and dangerous weave, becomes a jumping-off point for traffic from I-294 SB to I-88 WB, though the lane itself stays on 294. The right lane is dedicated to I-88 only. Just to the east, I-88 will blend into I-290, but I-290's number mysteriously wins (probably because the original number for I-88, IL 5, deferred to the Interstate).

Finishing up the eastbound run with photos from Doug Kerr. END I-290 would work just as well as the redundant and verbed sign here.

Some WB photos, ending with older signs on the Exit 15A ramp. My I-80 page has a succinct description and critique of IL 110. The decrepit structure in the highway median carries an elevated subway, the Blue Line, which also occupies the median of I-90 for awhile east of O'Hare Airport. Since I-290 was originally I-90, with the Kennedy Expressway being unnumbered, this line has the interesting distinction of running in one direction on a current highway, and in the opposite direction on its old alignment.

Doug Kerr took this photo of the Circle Interchange from the Sears Tower. Up in this photo is west on I-290, with I-90/I-94 in the foreground running East (left) to West (right), which is really south to north in cardinal directions.

Clark St. SB at Congress Pkwy., the eastern extension of I-290 into downtown Chicago. In 2012, it's in the middle of being spruced up for pedestrians, and I can only imagine the trouble that causes for the heavy commuting traffic pouring in or squeezing out on weekdays.

Have your pick of error shields on Franklin St. SB, approaching Van Buren St. I choose Interstate I-290 over the 2-digit width alternative. Chicago natives, or those visiting this scene now, will know that this cannot be recreated from a car, because Franklin St. was and remains one-way NB. This was a brief construction-time special to try to move traffic a little better during the reconstruction of Lower Wacker Drive, which coincided with the Congress Pkwy. rebuild for a special kind of disaster. Lower Wacker gets traffic from the north side of downtown (including famous Sears Tower) onto I-290 while avoiding the local street grid, so it's a popular route to have to detour, compared to Upper Wacker Drive, which has no direct ramp to I-290.

North onto IL 53
Onto I-90
Exit 1B to IL 72
Exit 5 to the Elgin-O'Hare Expressway
Exit 7 to I-355
Exit 10 to IL 83
Exit 13A or 15A to I-294
Exit 13A or 17 to US 20
Exit 15A to I-88
Exit 17 to US 12
Exit 17 to US 45
Exit 24B to IL 50
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