The Illinois Tollway will meet with neighbors of the Tri-State Tollway on Thursday to discuss how the widening of Interstate 294 will affect their properties.
In a letter posted on the Hinsdale village website, tollway officials say they will discuss potential impacts to residents’ property at the meeting, scheduled from 5-7 p.m. on the third floor of the Union Church of Hinsdale, 137 S. Garfield St.
Oneia Washington, who lives on the 400 block of Mills Street, definitely plans to attend.
“If (the tollway) gets any closer, it will be in my backyard,” Washington said.
She was thinking about remodeling her kitchen, but the tollway widening makes her hesitant to do any upgrades, she said.
Next month, Judy Cizmar will have lived in her house on the 400 block of Mills for 30 years.
“I retired this year. I planned to live here as long as this house holds together,” Cizmar said.
But she has heard the tollway project would move the sound wall 15 feet closer to her property.
“There’s only 12 feet from the cyclone fence to the back of my house,” Cizmar said.
The cyclone fence was there when she bought her house and may mark the tollway property line.
Hinsdale Village President Thomas Cauley, Jr., who is upset with the widening plan and with tollway officials, urged all residents to show up to the meeting.
At an open house on the widening project held at the Hinsdale Oasis in April, tollway diagrams showed expanding I-294 from the existing four lanes in each direction to five lanes, with an additional flex lane that could be used for buses or when traffic was backed up.
Western Springs resident Cathy Bogigian shares Cauley’s dismay that between April and November 2017, the tollway modified its plan to include two new lanes, plus an extra wide shoulder on both sides of the center median that would serve as a flex lane.
Bogigian lives in the Commonwealth in the Village town house development on the east side of the tollway and is a member of an ad hoc committee the homeowners association formed. The committee met with tollway officials twice after the April meeting, Bogigian said.
But her committee did not learn of the plan to, depending on how you look at, expand to a total of 14 lanes across — or 12 lanes plus two flex lanes — until she read about it in the newspaper in January.
“It was out of the blue,” Bogigian said. “That was shocking.”
In addition to noise and air pollution, the town house residents are concerned about drainage problems from the expansion.
Her father, Harold Bogigian, has lived on the west side of the tollway, on the 900 block of Harding Road in Hinsdale for 47 years. He is not sure if he will be able to attend, but he sent the tollway an email about his concerns.
He said he and another neighbor persuaded the tollway to build a berm as a separation between the highway and the houses before the sound wall existed. Then he and his wife planted trees and shrubs along the berm, which have matured beautifully, he said. Harold Bogigian fears all that will be lost.
A tollway official emailed him a response saying they would engage with property owners soon and there may be opportunities to enhance what separates the tollway and the homes.
“I don’t know if I’ll live to see that,” Bogigian said.
The toll authority asks property owners who cannot attend the meeting to contact Vicky Czuprynski at 630-241-6800, Ext. 3963, or firstname.lastname@example.org.