Photo by Joe Boyle
The Illinois State Toll Highway Authority has plans to revamp the 87th Street and Roberts Road bridge in Hickory Hills that may include a walking path and a public park.
By Joe Boyle
Hickory Hills officials enter the new year awaiting further plans for the reconstruction of the 87 th Street and Roberts Road tollway bridge.
Sue Lehr, the public works director for Hickory Hills, gave an update on plans for the tollway during a board meeting last month. She attended a session recently with Illinois State Toll Highway Authority representatives to go over the project.
“This all very hard to visualize but the bridge at 87 th and Roberts Road will have a completely different look,” Lehr said. “I saw some of the ideas and even though this is preliminary, it will include major changes.”
The busy intersection at 87 th Street currently under the bridge that intersects with Bridgeview to the east and Justice to the north, will include new landscaping. A walking path is being planned along with a play area for children. The area will be refurbished to the west near Pillars, which provides social services for women who have suffered domestic abuse and are provided with guidance for employment opportunities.
The extensive funding project will take place from 2023 through 2025 and will cost about $27 million, Lehr said.
“The right turning lane on Roberts will be completely revamped,” Lehr said. “Again, it’s very hard to visualize all this. The aesthetics of the bridge is really going to benefit Hickory Hills. It will open the area up and it will be well lit.”
The project to revamp the 87 th and Roberts Road bridge is part of the overall plans to upgrade the Illinois Interstate Tollway 294 north to Balmoral Road and south through the southwest suburbs. The County and Illinois State Tollway Authority are currently working on plans to fund the 87 th and Roberts Road project.
Initial plans include a covered and lighted area along the tollway and the bridge. Lehr said the Tollway Authority is considering different projects at that location.
“I have seen some of these plans and it’s really hard to grasp,” said Hickory Hills Mayor Mike Howley. “They are talking about having activities going on there with new landscaping added.”
Howley also said that preliminary plans discussed by the tollway authorities include an area to play shuffle board, bocce ball and exercise stations.
“They have exercise equipment stationed at Kasey Meadow Park,” Ald. Deborah Ferrero (2 nd ) said. “I really like them. I think Jennifer ( Fullerton, executive director of the Hickory Hills Park District) could help us out with that.”
Exercise stations were inserted throughout Kasey Meadow Park, 8047 W. 91st Place, Hickory Hills, just two years ago. The exercise equipment can be found along the new walking path throughout the park that passes along baseball and softball fields and playground equipment. Ferrero mentioned that the exercise equipment has become quite popular at the park. The exercise equipment is low maintenance and would be a fine addition to a revamped 87 th Street and Roberts Road location, Ferrero added.
“The construction plans could also include a Prairie Pond path to connect to the bridge,” Howley said. “This is all preliminary but they (tollway authorities) are discussing a lot of ideas.’
Ald. Patrick Purtill (2nd) asked Lehr if the height of the bridge at 87th and Roberts Road will change.
"I can't specifically answer those questions," Lehr said. "But I do believe the bridge will be higher."
During the meeting held Dec. 5 with Tollway Authority officials, Lehr also mentioned that a public park or public art will become part of the project at 87th and Roberts Road.
Ald. Mike McHugh (1st) also attended an Illinois Department of Transportation meeting earlier this fall with Lehr.
"Representatives of IDOT spoke very highly of Sue," added McHugh.