CONCRETE I- 90 BARRIER CUTS ACCESS FOR FIRST- RESPONDERS
The rebuilt Jane Addams Tollway ( I- 90) brought spanking new lanes, modernized interchanges and an unwelcome surprise for Schaumburg firefighters — a longer response time for crashes.
Previously, firefighters rushing to an emergency would jump on westbound I- 90 at Route 53 and speed to the crash location.
That’s not as easy — or as safe — now, some say. A concrete barrier dubbed the “chute” by local firefighters divides the westbound I- 90 local and express lanes for a mile or so between Route 53 and just west of Meacham Road.
The changes on I- 90 have improved response times in Hoffman Estates, but the chute is proving problematic in neighboring Schaumburg.
“This makes it increasingly difficult for emergency vehicles to access many parts of I- 90,” said Fire Chief David A. Schumann. “It’s a public safety issue.”
The tollway was a good partner during the I- 90 construction, keeping the village in the loop about the project, Schumann said.
So why the disconnect with the finished product?
The agency “works with lo- cal communities to ensure that the impacts of improvements made to our roadway system will continue to allow full access to emergency service providers,” spokesman Dan Rozek said.
“While designing and building the Meacham Road Interchange, the tollway worked closely with the village of Schaumburg to ensure the new interchange was appropriately designed to meet the needs of emergency responders.”
Schaumburg typically covers 911 calls on westbound I- 90 between Route 53 and Barrington Road, handling everything from “fenderbenders at rush hour to a 2 a. m. serious rollover accident,” Schumann said.
As a temporary solution, Schaumburg fire trucks and ambulances now enter I- 90 at Arlington Heights Road, which gives them access to all lanes, but the reroute is longer and costs precious time. “There’s going to be delayed responses” of up to 15 minutes, Schumann estimated. The department is brainstorming with counterparts in Arlington Heights and Hoffman Estates on a Plan B.
The tollway has $ 2.5 billion budgeted to rebuild and widen the Jane Addams between Rockford and O’Hare Airport. Workers added a lane in each direction along with bridge repairs.