New I-90 Exit Opening Soon

By: Alice Barr
By: Alice Barr

After more than a year of construction, the interchange connecting I-90 and 173 in Machesney Park is just days from opening. But for many area drivers, Monday can't come soon enough.
"We've had a number of people who come up to the road closed sign, stop and ask us if they can use the ramp. Some of them have actually ignored the signs, gone up the ramp, turned around and came back down the ramp, so they don't pay attention necessarily to the construction signs, but they are ready to use it," says IDOT resident engineer Jim Wieser.
And Wieser says there's good reason to be excited for the new interchange.
"I think it'll definitely help out with the economic base in the area and with the emergency situations that develop on I-90, any traffic accidents, just a general access to the area," says Wieser.
Business has been booming all along the 173 corridor for the past several years. Many local businesses hope the interchange will bring in even more customers.
"I would think a lot of the people that are driving long hours maybe want a quick bite in the middle of the night, since we are open 24 hours I think it will help business," says Crystal Swank, manager for Shake and Steak on 173 near I-90.
There's little doubt the interchange will bring increased traffic to the area. Neighbors are divided over what that will mean for the community.
"It's gonna allow for more commuters to live up here so it'll increase the housing up here, which will bring in more businesses and more revenue for the area," says area resident Kevin Haupt.
"There's just gonna be a lot more congestion than there has been. That just goes with the territory," adds John Fritch.
Swank says simply, "Bring them on!"
The project cost about 25 million dollars. As well as adding the interchange and tollway, 173 is now widened to four lanes for a mile in each direction away from the ext. IDOT plans to eventually widen 173 all the way to 251.
There will be a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the interchange Monday morning at 10:00 A.M. It will open to traffic some time between one and three that afternoon.


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