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Interstate 290 (abbreviated I - 290) is a main Interstate freeway that runs westwards from the Chicago Loopmarker. A portion of I-290 is officially called the Dwight D. Eisenhower Expressway. In short form, it is known as "the Ike" or the the Eisenhower. Before being designated the Eisenhower Expressway, the highway was called the Congress Expressway because of the surface street that was located approximately in its path and onto which I - 290 runs at its eastern terminus in the Chicago Loopmarker.

Interstate 290 connects Interstate 90 (the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway) in Rolling Meadows, Illinoismarker with Interstate 90/Interstate 94 (the John F. Kennedy Expressway / Dan Ryan Expressway) near the Loop. North of Interstate 355, the freeway is sometimes known locally as Illinois Route 53, or simply Route 53, since Illinois 53 existed before Interstate 290. However, it now merges with I-290 at Biesterfield Road. In total, Interstate 290 is 29.84 miles (48.02 km) long.

Route description

Jane Addams Memorial Tollway to Veterans Memorial Tollway

This section is 7 miles (11 km) long and runs from Rolling Meadows to Addisonmarker. It is the portion of I-290 more locally known as "Route 53." Here, Interstate 290 runs largely above-grade through Schaumburg, Illinoismarker and Elk Grove Villagemarker, and at-or-below grade through Itascamarker and Addisonmarker.

The northern five miles (eight km) of this highway were reconstructed in 2003-2004. A left shoulder and an auxiliary lane between ramps were added, as well as improved lighting. The highway is four lanes wide (not counting the auxiliary lane) north of the Elgin-O'Hare Expressway / Thorndale Avenue (mile marker 5), and five lanes wide with a wide left shoulder south to the exit to Interstate 355.

Between mile markers zero and four, Illinois Route 53 overlaps this section of the Eisenhower Expressway.

Eisenhower Extension

This section is 11 miles (18 km) long and runs from Addison to Hillsidemarker. It took its name when the Eisenhower was extended northwest from Hillside. The highway runs largely at-grade or above-grade for this length. U.S. Route 20 on overlaps I-290 around Elmhurstmarker from mile markers 12 to 13, and runs parallel to the rest of this section between mile markers seven and 18.

This section of I-290 varies in width from two lanes at the ramp east from the I-290/I-355 split, to three lanes between I-355 and U.S. Route 20, to three lanes plus two exit lanes at U.S. Route 20/Illinois Route 64 (Lake Street / North Avenue) (exit 13B). After exit 13B, the highway reverts to three thru traffic lanes. Exit 15 to southbound Interstate 294 is a frequent point of congestion due to ramp traffic backing up onto the mainline highway, often as long as two miles. This is because the ramp is not isolated from the mainline, only one lane in width, is a low-speed ramp (marked as a ramp, and is relatively short (1/4 mile, or 1/2 km) while carrying a high volume of truck traffic south to Indiana from North Avenue. Additionally, the sudden appearance of the exit tends to cause accidents when cars in the center lane try to aggressively turn into the right lane, particularly at the mouth of the I-294 exit. Finally, there is a dangerous high-volume weaving situation at the end of the ramp to I-294 with southbound I-294 traffic exiting to westbound Interstate 88. As of 2006, there are no plans to overcome any of these problems with new construction.

I-290 in Oak Park.
The western three miles (5 km) of this section are blacktop, while east of Illinois Route 83 (exit 10) the original concrete is still in place.

Tri-State Tollway to Austin Boulevard

This section or I-290 is seven miles (11 km) long, and it runs from Hillside all the way to the western border of Chicago. This section is sometimes referred to as "The Avenues". As of 2002, it is the third-most congested stretch of highway in the Chicago area, behind the Circle Interchange area and the intersection of the Dan Ryan Expressway and the Chicago Skywaymarker. It is known for having a high volume of traffic on ramps through the Avenues, and high volumes of traffic on left-side ramps in Forest Park and Oak Park. Interstate 290 runs above grade west of Mannheim Road, and at or below grade east of Mannheim Road.

Eastbound at Mannheim Road (exit 17), the highway splits into two express and one local lane; they are joined by two onramps from Interstate 88 and form express lanes three lanes wide and local lanes to Mannheim Road two lanes wide. After Mannheim Road, the highway immediately narrows to three lanes in width, causing mile-long (1.6 km) backups. It remains three lanes to Austin Boulevard. Westbound, I-290 merely is three lanes wide to Mannheim Road, and then four lanes wide to the I-88/I-290 split. Exits at Harlem Avenue (exit 21B) and Austin Boulevard (exit 23) are left offramps and onramps, causing backups as trucks switch lanes to exit, and a large volume of traffic enters on the left side of the highway.

In 2001–2002, this section between mile markers 15 and 18 was reconstructed in the first phase of an attempt to untangle the "Hillside Strangler", adding the local lanes and extra on-ramp to Interstate 290. The second phase, reconstruction of the highway between mile markers 18 and 23 (Mannheim Road to Austin Boulevard), is still in the preliminary engineering phase of construction as of April 2009.

Austin Boulevard to Chicago Loop

The easternmost section of I-290 is 7 miles (11 km) long and runs entirely through the city of Chicago to the terminus at Interstate 90/94. It runs below grade for its entire length.

This highway is four lanes wide in both directions for its entire length, and most on-ramps and off-ramps are located just two blocks apart. Therefore, an exit in one direction may be marked one street (ex. Laramie Avenue), while the same exit in the other direction may be marked another (ex. Cicero Avenue), even though the streets are only a block apart. This configuration results in most exits on this portion of road being marked as A/B exits.

Eastbound congestion is lighter here than through the "Avenues", generally limited to congestion on the tight onramps to the John F. Kennedy and Dan Ryan Expressways (the Circle Interchange) at the eastern terminus or a blind onramp at Kostner Avenue. Westbound, congestion is heavy starting at Laramie due to the left-hand exit at Austin (which combines a "perfect storm" of a four-down-to-three lane reduction, an unfamiliar left-hand exit, and entrance and in-merging traffic of the central onramp). Most afternoons, this bottleneck can skyrocket the "Post Office to Wolf (Road)" commute time to over an hour (up from 16 mins with no traffic).

The Eisenhower Expressway runs along blacktop pavement for the length of the section, except between Kostner Avenue and Independence Boulevard, where it runs on concrete pavement.

The eastern terminus of I-290 is the Circle Interchangemarker with I-90/I-94. After this junction, the route becomes an elevated and continues as a highway until LaSalle Street, at which point it passes under LaSalle Street Stationmarker and comes out the other side as a city street (Congress Parkway). The Congress Parkway route continues east until the street is stopped by Buckingham Fountainmarker.

I-290 just west of the Loop.
The Chicago Transit Authority maintains a rail line from the loop west to Forest Parkmarker that enters the median of the Eisenhower near Halsted Street and stays within the median through the Ciceromarker station. After Cicero, the line leaves the median and closely parallels the Eisenhower for the rest of its route. While convenient for mass transit, it has also severely limited any possibility of lane additions to the Eisenhower where the train line is. Preliminary studies on such an effort are already starting, however.


An expressway along the alignment of the Eisenhower Expressway was foreshadowed by Daniel Burnham's plan of 1909, which described a west side boulevard. The passageway under the old Post Office was designed to preserve the right of way for the future road.

The Expressway is named for the former President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and it originally called the Congress Expressway (It begins on Congress Parkway). The political columnist Mike Royko joked that it is Chicago's only Republican expressway, since the others all named after Democrats (though since that observation other non-political figures such as Jane Addams and Bishop Louis Henry Ford have had expressways named in their honor, and since then Interstate I-88 has been named after Republican President Ronald Reagan). The first segment, 2.5 miles (4.0 km) in length opened from Mannheim Road to 1st Avenue in December 1955. On December 15th, 4 additional miles (6 km) opened, from Ashland Avenue (1600 West) to Laramie Avenue (5200 West).

During the 1960s and 1970s, the Eisenhower Expreswsway was extended to Lake Street and North Avenue. In 1963, the first working example of ramp metering took place on the Eisenhower Expressway, based on successful metering through New York Citymarker tunnels and data from ramp closures in Detroit, Michiganmarker. The first implementation utilized a police officer at the top of an entrance ramp, stopping and releasing vehicles onto the highway at a predetermined rate. Another section opened in 1972, to a north-south expressway in Addison, Illinoismarker. At the time, this expressway was a short spur from the Eisenhower Expressway, and it was referred to as Illinois Route 53, which continued north to Schaumburg. Construction on Illinois 53 had finished in 1970.

Until 1978, the Eisenhower Expressway was marked as a part of Interstate 90. In 1978, the Interstate 90 designation was moved onto the John F. Kennedy Expressway and the Northwest Tollway, replacing Illinois Route 194. The Eisenhower Expressway was then renumbered as Interstate 290.

Because the segment from Interstate 294 to Illinois 53 was built last, that portion of the highway is referred to as the Eisenhower Extension. The Eisenhower Expressway, extension included, is 23 miles (37 km) long. If the Illinois 53 portion of Interstate 290 is added to that, the highway is actually 30 miles (48 km) long.

In 2003-2004, the first five miles (8 km) of Interstate 290 out of Schaumburgmarker were rebuilt, replacing pavement that had well-exceeded its estimated 20 year lifetime. (The original pavement was built in stages from 1963 through 1970 as part of Illinois 53.) A fifth auxiliary lane was added between the entrance and exit ramps of exits 1, 4 and 5. The most important safety upgrade was the demolition of the raised grassy median between the westbound and eastbound lanes, and its replacement with a permanent concrete median and wide shoulders.

Inbound I-290 at the "Hillside Strangler.
  • Hillside Strangler — Named after the Chicago suburb of Hillsidemarker, it refers to a major merge with Interstate 88, and almost always is used when referring to inbound (eastbound) traffic. It is at this point that Interstate 88 terminates eastbound. It was called the Strangler because before its reconstruction in the early 2000s, seven through lanes were forced to merge to three, creating large backups. Urban legend suggests that the former Columbia College student Robert Spryszak was the first known to use the expression relating to the traffic pattern in the late 70s during the "Hillside Strangler" murders media craze. Reconstruction widened part of this area to nine lanes (five inbound; three through; two local; and four through lanes outbound). This allowed direct exits to Mannheim Road (U.S. Routes 12/20/45) from Interstate 88, the ramp also serving for an Interstate 88 truck access to eastbound Interstate 290; created an inbound collector-distributor ramp for Mannheim Road; and added a timed gate that closed a ramp from Roosevelt Road (Illinois Route 38) to inbound Interstate 290 during the afternoon rush hours. These improvements helped congestion at the site, but they also pushed pre-existing congestion further east to the six-lane portion of the highway. The Hillside Strangler is located at about mile marker 18.

  • The Avenues — The portion of the highway between Mannheim Road at mile marker 17 and First Avenue in Maywoodmarker, a stretch of 3 miles (5 km). Named because all of the crossroads between these two exits are named numerically, in ascending order traveling outbound (westbound). 1st Avenue (Illinois Route 171) is exit 20. There are exits to 9th Avenue, 17th Avenue, and 25th Avenue to the west. These exits are spaced about 3/4ths of a mile (1200 m) apart. This stretch is notorious for being very congested.

  • The Eisenhower Extension or 290 Extension — The eight miles (12 km) of road between current-day mile marker seven (Interstate 355 south to US 20/Lake Street) and North Avenue (Illinois Route 64), mile marker 15. This section was built in the late 1970s.

  • The Circle Interchangemarker — The eastern terminus of Interstate 290 where it meets Interstates 90 and 94, which overlap through Chicago. North of this interchange Interstates 90 and 94 are called the Kennedy Expressway, while south of it Interstates 90 and 94 are called the Dan Ryan Expressway. The interchange itself consists of eight heavily used, very tight ramps that wind around each other, giving the interchange a distinct circle shape when looked at from above. This design, adequate when first built in the 1950s, forces drivers to slow down to speeds of about 20 mph (32 km/h) due to its tightly wound curves. This currently causes the worst congestion in the Chicago area. However, the redesign of the interchange has been determined to be prohibitively expensive because of the relatively small, four city-block area that the interchange is built upon.

Post Office

Just east of the I-290 - I-90/94 Junction in downtown Chicago, the Post Office is a building that stretches over Congress Parkway. If one drives eastbound on I-290 and continues past I-90/94, the highway ends and becomes Congress Parkway. The Post Office was a landmark that was sometimes used in referring to the end of I-290 in downtown Chicago. For example, a traffic reporter might say "... forty minutes from Mannheim to the Post Office...".

This large building was used by the United States Postal Service until 1996. Then, it was bought by a real-estate developer in 1998, but as of early 2006 no progress has been made concerning development on the site. The building itself was built from 1921 to 1933 in the Art-Deco style, and it is 2.5 million square feet (230,000 m²) in size. The vast majority of the space is away from windows, and there are no open spaces due to the support pillars. As a result, it has markedly less value than would be expected for a downtown structure--the current owner considers it to be a "white elephant" due to the costs for maintenance, utilities, and security, and they would be happy to give it away to someone professional. In spite of its unused state, the building is still known to visitors and commuters alike as the unofficial gateway into the Chicago Loop area. In late August, 2009, an auction was held to sell the facility to the highest bidder. The winning bid was surprisingly high, $40 million, to an English real estate developer, Bill Davies [104336].

Exit list

County Location Mile # Destinations Notes

Mile 0.00-4.55
Schaumburgmarker 0.0  – North Suburbs Continuation beyond I-90
0.60 1A Northbound exit combines exits 1A and 1B into single exit 1
1.44 1B
Elk Grove Villagemarker 3.93 4 East end of IL 53 overlap

Mile 0.00-9.33
Itascamarker 5.03 5 Thorndale Avenue, To Elgin-O'Hare Expressway
Addisonmarker 6.46 7 US 20 exit is accessible westbound only. Eastbound exit to US 20 is on I-355.
10.69 10 Signed as exits 10A (south) and 10B (north)
Elmhurstmarker 12.34 12 West end of US 20 overlap
13.41 13B Westbound exit and eastbound entrance
13.41 13A East end of US 20 overlap
Berkeleymarker 14.76 14 St. Charles Road Signed as exits 14A (west) and 14B (east)
Hillsidemarker 15.33 15B  – Milwaukeemarker Eastbound exit is via exit 13A

Mile 4.55-20.51
15.97 15A , Indianamarker
16.44 16 Wolf Road Westbound exit and eastbound entrance
17.52 17 Signed as exits 17A (east/south) and 17B (west/north) eastbound
Maywoodmarker 18.54 18 25th Avenue Signed as exits 18A (south) and 18B (north)
19.05 19A 17th Avenue
19.56 19B 9th Avenue Westbound exit and eastbound entrance
20.06 20
Forest Parkmarker 21.02 21A Des Plaines Avenue (7600 West) Westbound entrance and eastbound exit
Oak Parkmarker 21.58 21B
23.09 23A Austin Boulevard (6000 West)
Chicagomarker 23.63 23B Central Avenue (5600 West)
24.09 24A Laramie Avenue (5200 West) Westbound exit and eastbound entrance
24.61 24B Eastbound exit and westbound entrance
25.14 25 Kostner Avenue (4400 West) Westbound exit and eastbound entrance
25.70 26A Independence Boulevard (3800 West)
26.41 26B Homan Avenue (3400 West) Westbound exit and eastbound entrance
26.90 27A Sacramento Avenue (3000 West) Eastbound exit and westbound entrance
27.15 27B California Avenue (2800 West) Westbound exit and eastbound entrance
27.67 27C Western Avenue (2400 West), Oakley Boulevard (2300 West)
28.17 28A Damen Avenue (2000 West) Exit to United Center
28.54 28B Paulina Street (1700 West), Ashland Boulevard (1600 West)
29.43 29A Racine Avenue (1200 West) Eastbound exit and westbound entrance
29.53 29B Morgan Street (1000 West) Westbound exit only
29.84  – Indianamarker, Wisconsinmarker Circle Interchangemarker; east end of I-290
0.32 Canal Street (500 West) Eastbound exit and westbound entrance. Mileposts are measured from the Circle Interchange.
0.48 Congress Parkway Bridge over the Chicago Rivermarker
0.55 Wacker Drivemarker, Franklin Street (300 West) Eastbound exit and westbound entrance
0.56 Wells Street (200 West) At-grade intersection
0.56 Congress Parkway (500 South) Continuation beyond Wells Street


  1. Interstate 290 at
  2. Reconstruction planned for I-290 west of Chicago. Entering preliminary design as of 2005.
  3. Building the Congress Expressway,

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