Longmeadow Parkway bridge will be toll-free when it’s expected to open this fall after much controversy

McHenry County contributes $1 million to help eliminate need for tolls

The new Longmeadow Parkway bridge over the Fox River connecting Algonquin to Carpentersville is expected to open in 2024. Signs around the construction area are seen on  Jan. 18, 2024.

The project was met with protests, a lawsuit and various delays.

But one thing that motorists won’t meet when they drive over the Longmeadow Parkway bridge is a toll taker, electronic or otherwise.

With construction almost complete and the bridge across the Fox River expected to open later this year, it’s now official that the span will be toll-free.

A total of $35 million in funding was required to eliminate the need to make Longmeadow a toll bridge, as was earlier planned. The first allocation was $17.5 million in the state’s 2023 budget; an additional $12.5 million was provided in the 2024 state budget, Kane County Board Chairwoman Corinne Pierog said.

In addition, McHenry County granted $1 million for the project and another $1 million came from Cook County. The remaining $3 million will be provided by Kane County to eliminate the need for a toll, Pierog said.

The bridge is located in Kane County but is expected to benefit drivers regionally, particularly McHenry County motorists.

McHenry County funded its $1 million contribution through the Advance McHenry County program, which uses federal COVID-19 stimulus dollars to invest in infrastructure, workforce development, nonprofit agencies, special districts and local governments.

“Not only are we partnering with our Kane County neighbors, but we’re also making a thoughtful and impactful investment in our region’s infrastructure and business community without having to charge a toll, saving our residents millions of dollars,” McHenry County Board Chairman Michael Buehler said in a news release. “It’s a win, win, win.”

McHenry County officials estimate removing the toll has the potential to save the average user $200 to $300 a year.

Total costs for the Longmeadow Parkway bridge project are expected to be $204.8 million. Slightly more than $157 million was spent on construction as of November 2022, according to Kane County documents.

Kane County will assume all future maintenance costs that had previously been expected to be funded by the toll.

The 5.6-mile Longmeadow Parkway Corridor passes through portions of Algonquin, Carpentersville and Barrington Hills, as well as unincorporated Kane County.

The bridge itself is complete, and all that is left now is concrete work on the new four-lane connector road from east of the bridge to Bolz Road near Route 25, said Steve Coffinbargar, Kane County Division of Transportation assistant director.

Kane County aims to start construction on the final portion in the spring, assuming the board accepts a bid sometime in February, Coffinbargar said.

Currently, the only nearby options for drivers to cross the Fox River are Route 62 in Algonquin, Route 72 in West and East Dundee, and the Main Street Bridge in Carpentersville.

Though not open yet, the new bridge already has sparked interest in future property development in Algonquin, Village President Debby Sosine said. Land north of Longmeadow and along Huntley Road has caught the attention of developers, though no formal plans have been confirmed.

Developer NorthPoint currently is building the Algonquin Corporate Center at the corner of Longmeadow Parkway and Randall Road. Two of the five buildings have been completed, Sosine said.

“We’ve had people looking at land north of Longmeadow and along Huntley Road.”

The bridge will alleviate traffic in some areas, but it will also bring more drivers into Algonquin. The bridge will help commuters going east and west, but Sosine expects traffic along Longmeadow Parkway to increase.

“It’s a double-edged sword,” she said.

The bridge is “decades” in the making and once completed, will have taken eight years to construct, Coffinbargar said.

Contractors also had to remove lead-contaminated soil near Bolz Road, creating a long delay. The soil absorbed lead from bullets and casings left in the ground where a gun range used to be, Sosine said.

The project came with other delays and controversies. Some residents opposed the plans to make the construction a toll bridge. An attempted lawsuit by residents aiming to protect the Brunner Family Forest Preserve also raised concerns of the impact on wildlife, including the endangered rusty patched bumblebee.

More than 50 concerned citizens gather to talk as they protest the expansion of Longmeadow Parkway and toll bridge on Saturday, March 11, 2017, in Algonquin.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony most likely will take place once the bridge is complete this fall, Coffinbargar said.

“This is a second once-in-a-lifetime project in the county, with the Stearns Road project being the first,” Coffinbargar said.

The Stearns Road Bridge Corridor is a bridge that crosses the Fox River in Elgin and was completed in 2015.

Sosine said she is excited for residents to have easier access east of the river, but the most important feat is making the bridge toll-free.

“The absolute best is the elimination of the toll on the bridge,” she said.