Illinois Department of Transportation, Ann L. Schneider, Secretary
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 22, 2010

CONTACT:
Illinois Tollway - Joelle McGinnis
630-241-6800 ext. 2380
jmcginnis@getipass.com

IDOT - Josh Kauffman
217-558-0517
Josh.Kauffman@illinois.gov

ILLINOIS TOLLWAY AND IDOT LAKE COUNTY ENVIRONMENTAL WORK
RECOGNIZED WITH FEDERAL HIGHWAY ADMINISTRATION AWARD

North Chicago Wetland Mitigation Project Named 2010 Exemplary Ecosystem Initiative

DOWNERS GROVE, IL - Environmental work in Lake County by the Illinois Tollway and Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) has been recognized by Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) as one of seven nationwide projects selected in 2010 as Exemplary Ecosystem Initiatives.

The North Chicago Wetland Mitigation Project is rehabilitating and protecting 150-acres of Illinois native landscape threatened by invasive species and development. The site, located just south of Buckley Road and east of the Tri-State Tollway (I-94), contains high quality wetlands. With less than one-tenth of one-percent of Illinois native prairie remaining, the importance of repairing and protecting this site from degradation or development is critical.

According to FHWA, projects selected as Exemplary Ecosystem Initiatives identify ecosystem and habitat projects that are: unique or highly unusual in their geographic scope, use cutting-edge science or technology, use high level environmental standards, achieve high quality results, and are recognized by environmental interests as being particularly valuable or noteworthy.

"The Tollway is committed to fostering environmental responsibility and sustainability in everything we do," said Illinois Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur. “The native plants and high quality wetlands on this site are extremely important to this state and we are pleased to be able to help restore and protect them."

“In keeping with Governor Pat Quinn’s directive to embrace green initiatives in our construction practices, the Illinois Department of Transportation is committed to preserving the environment as the work continues on the governor’s historic Illinois Jobs Now! capital program,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Gary Hannig. “We are pleased to be recognized for our work with the Illinois Tollway to protect this valuable piece of our state’s ecosystem.”

Work to remove invasive vegetation and existing agriculture drainage tiles from the site began earlier this year and was followed by the seeding of degraded wetlands and upland areas with sedges, grasses, prairie plants and other native species in late fall. By restoring hydrology to the site’s wetlands and removing invasive plants, high quality vegetation will be allowed to flourish and native prairie will be restored. The Tollway will manage and monitor the site until 2015.

The restoration of this site’s natural resources was developed to offset wetlands that were impacted during the Tollway’s recent Tri-State Tollway (I-94/I-294) Rebuild & Widen Project, as well as the Illinois Department of Transportation's recent work on IL Route 47.

This project was coordinated with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, IDOT, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the University of Illinois, Lake County Stormwater Management Commission, the Forest Preserve District of Lake County and the City of North Chicago.

About the Illinois Tollway

The Illinois Tollway is a user-fee system that receives no state or federal funds for maintenance and operations. The agency maintains and operates 286 miles of interstate tollways in 12 counties in Northern Illinois, including the Reagan Memorial Tollway (I-88), the Veterans Memorial Tollway (I-355), the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90) and the Tri-State Tollway (I-94/I-294/I-80).

About Illinois DOT

The Illinois Department of Transportation provides safe, cost-effective transportation for Illinois in ways that enhance quality of life, promote economic prosperity, and demonstrate respect for our environment. Illinois DOT provides leadership throughout Illinois for the improvement and coordination of the state's multi-faceted transportation system and serves as an advocate and trusted adviser to local governments and other community agencies involved in providing transportation access and services for all of Illinois. For more information, visit http://www.dot.il.gov/.

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