Roads Introduction


Metropolitan Chicago needs a coordinated approach to reducing the congestion that costs the region billions each year. Roads are designed to efficiently transport people and goods safely to and from jobs, markets, and recreation. They are the fundamental piece and most heavily used part of the transportation system in the region. 

The Chicago region is consistently ranked as one of the most congested regions in the United States. Congestion costs billions of dollars annually in wasted time and fuel, decreased productivity, inefficient freight movements, and pollution. The region needs to invest strategically in proven solutions, such as congestion pricing or adaptive signal control (ASCT), to help alleviate congestion experienced on roadways. The federally required Congestion Management Process (CMP) serves as the regions guide to comprehensively address congestion that users experience on the transportation system. With transportation funding dwindling, the maintenance and modernization of the road network is a concern for the region. Roads deteriorate over time due to damage from vehicles and the environment and need to be continually maintained. The region needs to make funding road maintenance and modernization a priority to maintain a modern and safe road network in the region.

Expressway Vision. CMAP is developing a vision for metropolitan Chicago's expressway system, at the request of with funding from the Illinois Department of Transportation and the Illinois Tollway. The vision will be multijurisdictional, multimodal, and bold in its approach.  It will guide future capital investments, coordinate transportation operations, address growing freight congestion, and provide game-changing public transit options for the existing expressway system in northeastern Illinois.

Congestion Pricing. CMAP believes the implementation of express toll lanes will reduce congestion that costs drivers time, money, and patience. Building expressway capacity is critical to handle our traffic, but construction cannot relieve congestion completely, especially with growth in traffic over time. A new strategy is needed, one that gives drivers the option to avoid congestion.  

Conformity Analysis.  As part of the transportation planning and programming process, CMAP staff evaluates the impact of proposed transportation activities on the region's air quality. This evaluation, called a conformity analysis, is submitted to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for their review before a long-range regional transportation plan or Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) is approved.

Congestion Management Process.  CMAP's regional congestion management process helps advance the quality of life and mobility goals described in GO TO 2040.  It requires a careful investigation of strategies that either directly reduce congestion or mitigate its effects by addressing related issues, such as air quality. From this, specific strategies can be selected and implemented in order to reach long term objectives set out by CMAP. 

Highway Congestion and Crash Scans. CMAP staff have created congestion scans, corridor-level highway data, and congestion reports for the Chicago region's expressway system.

Roadway Functional Classification.  Local governments can use roadway functional classification to provide a direct link between transportation and land use. Local comprehensive plans should consider the interaction between adjacent land use and transportation facilities by establishing policies that link access to property, zoning, and development density to the functional classification of area roadways. A well-defined functional classification system in combination with designated truck routes can also be used to direct freight movements to appropriate facilities.

Road Resources

GO TO 2040. The comprehensive plan's Regional Mobility chapter contains recommendations pertaining to the regional transportation system.

Transportation Data.  CMAP prepares data-driven estimates of future traffic patterns at a variety of scales in support of regional transportation planning and capital programming activities. These projections are supported by a substantial regional travel demand modeling system a large-scale travel survey program.  

Expressway Atlas - 2016.  CMAP has prepared a 2016 update to the popular Expressway Atlas.  The 2016 update to the desktop reference includes summaries of vehicle miles traveled (VMT) by expressway.   In addition, area-wide trend data is presented.  Finally, the Atlas includes traffic flow graphics for the entire IDOT Expressway System equipped with counting devices.  These graphics provide link-by-link and ramp-by-ramp counts using highly detailed corridor-level drawings. 

2016 Expressway Atlas.

Expressway Atlas - 2014.  The 2014 update was similar in scope to the 2016 update, above.

2014 Expressway Atlas (Links to CMAP Data Hub page for document)

Expressway Atlas - 2012.  CMAP has prepared a 2012 Expressway Atlas.  The atlas provides a desktop reference of Average Annual Daily Traffic (AADT) volumes and other traffic system statistics and graphics for northeastern Illinois.  This baseline data is useful for transportation system planning, but it also includes volume trends by location going back to 1984.

2012 Expressway Atlas (Links to CMAP Data Hub page for document)

Visualizations Explore the Metropolitan Chicago Transportation Network.  Interactive mobility visualizations allow users to explore data on metropolitan Chicago's transportation system, including road, transit, and freight networks, which drive our regional economy.  

More about Roads

The road network is the region's most utilized transportation asset, moving people and goods to and from just about every destination in the region. Roads are operating 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and affect nearly every mode of transportation. Programming and planning for our region's road network should consider all transportation modes that directly use the road network including automobile, freight, transit, bicycle, and pedestrians. Users of the region's road network face many headaches on a daily basis including congestion and maintenance and operations issues, and safety concerns. The Chicago region needs to invest strategically to create and maintain a safe, efficient and seamless road network.

The Chicago region has one of the most congested road networks in the country. Congestion costs the Chicago region billions of dollars annually in wasted time and fuel, decreased productivity, inefficient freight movements, and pollution. Road users experience two types of congestion, recurring and non-recurring.

Recurring congestion is congestion that routinely occurs overtime and is usually caused by a lack of roadway capacity. Non-recurring congestion is congestion that does not routinely occur and is caused by a traffic incident, inclement weather, construction zone, or special events. Non-recurring congestion is especially frustrating to roadway users because of the unanticipated increase in travel time. In order for the region to reduce recurring and non-recurring congestion experienced on the road network, it will need to identify and invest in proven congestion solutions such as congestion pricing, Adaptive Signal Control (ASCT), or Active Corridor Management (ACM).

The region needs to maintain the road network at an acceptable quality in order to have a safe, well-functioning roadway system. Roads deteriorate over time due to vehicle use and the environment. Properly maintained roads provides a better user experience and reduces vehicle operating costs, as there is a direct link between road condition and vehicle operating costs. A well maintained system also improves the safety of the road network. With transportation funding dwindling, the maintenance and modernization of the road network is a concern and should be a priority for the region.

The road network in the region is used by multiple modes of transportation, some more exposed then others, and creating a safe environment for all is a major public concern. Road safety should be considered throughout the entire programming and planning process to reduce the number of fatalities, injuries, and crashes on the region's road network. Improving safety and reducing the number of crashes will improve the reliability, reduce non-recurring congestion, and provide a better user experience for people traveling on our region's roads.