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Last stop for Des Plaines oasis: It’ll be torn down to widen tollway

The over-the-road Des Plains Oasis along Jane Adams Tollway (I-90) wil close March 16 structure torn down this year make

The over-the-road Des Plains Oasis along the Jane Adams Tollway (I-90) wil close March 16 and the structure torn down this year to make room for lane expansion that will extend to Elgin. | Sun-Times Media file photo

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Updated: October 28, 2013 7:39AM

The over-the-road concession area of the Des Plaines oasis will be demolished in order to widen the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway under a plan approved Thursday.

The ground-level fuel stations and convenience stores operated by 7-Eleven will stay open on that stretch of Interstate 90 to travelers in both directions during the demolition work.

However, the oasis building will be shut down in April to prepare for the June removal of the over-the-road concession structure. It could take up to four months to remove the structure, a tollway spokeswoman said.

During the June demolition, the Jane Addams will see “occasional, 15-minute night closures of all lanes so girders can be safely removed,’’ Illinois Tollway spokeswoman Wendy Abrams said Thursday.

“While the tollway had hoped to avoid removing the over-the-road portion of the Des Plaines oasis, relocating or rebuilding the facility would have been prohibitively expensive,’’ Abrams said.

To widen the Jane Addams by one lane in each direction, the tollway had to buy out the 14 years left on a lease covering the Des Plaines over-the-road concession area, at a cost of $9.3 million. Plus, the tear-down itself will cost another estimated $3.6 million, Abrams said.

Eleven businesses that pay roughly $116,000 in annual rent to the Tollway will be displaced by the demolition , including a McDonald’s, Subway, Sbarro, Starbucks, Baskin Robbins and Taco Bell, she said.

The fuel stations, car wash and convenience stores at oasis ground level that pay roughly $207,000 a year in rent will remain intact “into the next decade,’’ but ultimately will be removed, Abrams said.

The Illinois Tollway board of directors Thursday agreed to pay SFI Chicago Tollway LLC $9.3 million in “termination costs” to end the portion of its 25-year lease covering the over-the-road Des Plaines concession area, tollway officials said.

Removing the over-the-road area clears the way for a fourth lane to be built in each direction on I-90, from O’Hare International Airport to Elgin. That Jane Addams expansion is needed to proceed with the Elgin O’Hare Western Access Project, officials said.

The I-90 Rebuilding and Widening Project will create eight lanes of traffic from the Kennedy Expressway to Randall Road, and six lanes from Randall Road to I-39. By the time it’s finished, drivers should save up to 27 minutes on a trip from Elgin to the Kennedy Expressway, tollway officials say.

“The removal of the Des Plaines oasis is bittersweet to those of us who have visited there and consider the tollway oases to be an important part of our agency’s history,” Illinois Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur said in a news release. “But, in our view, the tremendous benefits that will result from this expanded roadway – faster travel times, less congestion, reduced pollution and enhanced regional mobility – far outweigh the loss.”

The tollway’s master lease with SFI, which ends in 2027, includes all seven tollway oases, as well as maintaining and patching the pavement of all oases parking lots. Under a contract amendment approved Thursday, SFI agreed to contribute $8.5 million toward reconstructing the parking lots at the six other oases — or about half the estimated cost of rebuilding the decades-old parking lots, Tollway officials said.


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