Illinois Route 53

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Illinois Route 53 marker

Illinois Route 53
Route information
Maintained by IDOT
Length: 82.02 mi[2] (132.00 km)
Existed: 1924[1] – present
Major junctions
South end: I-55 in Gardner
  I-80 in Joliet
I-55 in Bolingbrook
I-88 / IL 110 in Lisle
I-290 in Elk Grove Village
I-90 / I-290 in Rolling Meadows
North end: IL 83 in Long Grove
Counties: Grundy, Will, DuPage, Cook, Lake
Highway system
US 52 US 54

Illinois Route 53 is an arterial north–south state highway in northeast Illinois. Route 53 runs south from Long Grove at Illinois Route 83 to Gardner at Interstate 55 west of historic U.S. Route 66, a distance of 82.02 miles (132.00 km).[2] It mainly cuts through the western suburbs of Chicago, passes through Bolingbrook, Romeoville, Crest Hill and Joliet, merging into I-55 at Gardner.

Route description[edit]

U.S. Route 66, Illinois Route 53, and the Illinois & Michigan Canal overlap in Joliet Illinois just south of Theodore Street.
Illinois Route 53 north of the interchange of Interstate 90

Illinois 53 is one of the state highways routed along expressways in the state. Before it becomes an expressway, Illinois 53 starts out in Long Grove going southwest towards Palatine. South of Lake-Cook Road, Illinois 53 follows Hicks Road, Rand Road (concurrent with U.S. 12) and Dundee Road (concurrent with Illinois 68) through Palatine's northeast side before it joins an expressway that starts un-numbered (technically a spur of 53), one mile (1.6 km) north at Lake-Cook Rd as a bypass of northeast Palatine. The northeast Palatine stretch goes through the Rand and Dundee intersection, one of the country's deadliest intersections in traffic accidents.[citation needed] It forms the other half of the Interstate 290/IL 53 combination in Schaumburg before being routed west onto Biesterfield Road and back south onto Rohlwing Road. Until its first junction with I-55 by Bolingbrook, it remains a mostly 2 to 4 lane road, largely replaced by the I-290 and I-355 combo. In the suburb of Lombard, Illinois 53 is called Columbine Avenue.

South of the first junction with I-55, Illinois 53 follows the path of historic Route 66 in Illinois and parallels Interstate 55, entering downtown Joliet, which is about four miles (6 km) east of I-55. Illinois 53 also passes directly in front of Stateville Correctional Center in Crest Hill, Illinois. From Joliet it follows the original Route 66 alignment to the south. It remains a four-lane divided highway for about 15 miles (24 km), passing through Elwood and the former Joliet Arsenal, part of which is now the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery and Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie. Route 53 narrows to two lanes just outside Wilmington and crosses the Kankakee River in downtown Wilmington. It then continues southwest through Braidwood and Braceville on its way to Gardner, where it loops around the southern part of town before ending at I-55.


SBI Route 53 ran from Romeoville to Long Grove on Rohlwing Road and Hicks Road from 1924 to 1963. From 1963 through 1970, it was routed onto a new freeway from Addison to Arlington Heights and cosigned with Interstate 90 until that was changed to Interstate 290.

In 1967 Illinois 53 was extended to Gardner, and in 1995 Illinois Route 129 was routed onto Illinois 53 south of Braidwood. This lasted a year until Illinois 129 was dropped entirely south of Braidwood. Near the northern end, the freeway was extended from Dundee Road to Lake-Cook Road in 1989.[3]

In 1990, with the construction of Interstate 355, Illinois 53 was moved off of the Interstate 290/355 combination south of Biesterfield Road and back onto its original alignment.


Illinois 53 has been at the center of a major dispute regarding its northern extension (also known as FAP 342) into Lake County. The studied corridor[4] currently runs from the freeway's current terminus at Lake-Cook Road north to a planned bypass for Illinois Route 120 near Grayslake. FAP 342 road signs are posted on roads that would be crossed by the proposed extension, demarking the right-of-way (many villages have not allowed development in the proposed right-of-way). The combined 53/120 extension would form a large T shape in the center of Lake County, with the 120 bypass carrying through-traffic from U.S. Route 12 to the Tri-State Tollway around Gurnee. Such an extension would almost certainly require a re-routing of IL Route 53 from its current northern terminus of IL Route 83 as well as its concurrency with Hicks Road and IL Route 68/Dundee Road. The un-numbered spur of IL Route 53 between IL Route 68/Dundee Road and Lake-Cook Road would most likely become numbered as part of IL Route 53, although drivers have typically referred to the spur as a portion of IL Route 53 since its construction in the late-1980s.

Once proposed as a freeway following Interstate standards, then considered dead, it is now proposed as a limited speed (45 mph) tollway.

The highway has been opposed by citizens in several organizations, notably the Illinois chapter of the Sierra Club, which represents thousands in Lake County and NE Illinois, and vocal residents of Long Grove, which lies directly in the path of the Illinois 53 extension. The Sierra Club opposes the roadway extension due to the damage it would inflict on dozens of wetlands in the 10,000 acre corridor, the availability of better, less expensive ways to reduce congestion, concern about future congestion from suburban sprawl that the extension will invite, and other factors. Instead, they call for expanding existing roads, improving mass transit, and better development planning.[5] The cost of building an expressway in wetlands has so far exceeded the funding available from tolls and taxes that might be derived from it.

Proponents of the tollway argue that congestion in Lake County has already reached economically damaging levels, and the existing network of roads in the county is insufficient for the task; and that future projections call for housing and commerce development to reach the McHenry and Lake County areas regardless of the presence of a new highway. [6] In April 2009, 16% of registered voters in Lake County approved (76% "Yes" to 24% "No") a non-binding referendum. The question asked whether to construct the Illinois 53 extension without asking voters to accept the cost or impacts.[7]

In a separate section to the south, the Illinois Department of Transportation proposed in 1999 of widening Illinois 53 south of U.S. Route 20 (Lake Street) and generally north of Interstate 88 to a five-lane section. Opposition from a citizen group called NIFTI (Neighbors Influencing Fifty-Three improvement) began to lobby for a smaller expansion plan of three-lanes. The road south of Lake Street runs through predominantly residential areas and light industry. The term Context Sensitive Design and Solutions was introduced to the state of Illinois through the efforts of this group.

Major intersections[edit]

County Location Mile km Destinations Notes
Grundy Gardner Main Street Southern terminus of IL 53
Will Braidwood IL 113
Wilmington IL 102 east Western terminus of IL 102
Joliet US 52 east Southern end of US 52 concurrency
I-80 (Moline Expressway)
US 6 / US 52 west Northern end of US 52 concurrency
US 30 east Eastbound one-way
US 30 west Westbound one-way
IL 7 south (Theodore Street) Southern end of IL 7 concurrency
Crest Hill IL 7 north (Renwick Road) Northern end of IL 7 concurrency
Bolingbrook I-55
DuPage Lisle US 34 (Ogden Avenue)
I-88 (Ronald Reagan Memorial Tollway) / IL 110
Glen Ellyn IL 56 (Butterfield Road)
IL 38 (Roosevelt Road)
Lombard IL 64 (North Avenue)
Addison US 20 (Lake Street)
Itasca IL 19 (Irving Park Road)
IL 390 (Elgin O'Hare Expressway, Thorndale Avenue)
Cook Elk Grove Village I-290 east Southern end of I–290 concurrency
Schaumburg IL 72 (Higgins Road)
IL 58 (Golf Road)
Rolling Meadows I-90 (Jane Addams Memorial Tollway) / I-290 Northern end of I–290 concurrency; northern terminus of I–290
IL 62 (Algonquin Road)
Kirchoff Road Northbound exit and southbound entrance
Euclid Avenue
Palatine US 14 (Northwest Highway)
Palatine Road
US 12 (Rand Road) Northbound exit and southbound entrance
Arlington Heights IL 68 (Dundee Road)
CookLake Lake Cook Road Northern end of Freeway/Un-numbered spur of IL-53 north of IL-68 Dundee Road
Lake Long Grove IL 83 (McHenry Road) Northern terminus of IL 53
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi


  1. ^ Carlson, Rick. Illinois State Highways Page: Routes 41 thru 60. Last updated March 15, 2006. Retrieved March 23, 2006.
  2. ^ a b Illinois Technology Transfer Center (2006). "T2 GIS Data". Retrieved 2007-11-08. 
  3. ^ Springfield Bureau (1988-05-26). "Expressway projects on the list for Chicago area". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2008-06-25. 
  4. ^ Map of Route 53/120 North Extension Proposed alignment for IL Route 53/120 North Extension Retrieved May 18, 2012.
  5. ^ Illinois Sierra Club. Guide to Route 53 extension (FAP 342). Retrieved April 11, 2006.
  6. ^ Build 53 Now! Home Page. Retrieved April 11, 2006.
  7. ^ "Illinois Route 53 Extension Referendum Results, April 7, 2009 Unofficial Results" (PDF). Lake County Government. Retrieved August 8, 2010. [dead link]

External links[edit]

Route map: Google / Bing