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
North end: IL 83 in Long Grove
Counties: Grundy, Will, DuPage, Cook, Lake
Highway system
US 52 US 54

Illinois Route 53 (IL 53) is an arterial north–south state highway in northeast Illinois. IL 53 runs from Interstate 55 (I-55) west of historic U.S. Route 66 (US 66) in Gardner to IL 83 in Long Grove, 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]

US 66, IL 53, and the Illinois & Michigan Canal Passage concurrency in Joliet just south of Theodore Street
IL 53 north of the interchange with I-90

IL 53 is one of the few state highways routed along expressways in the state. Before it becomes an expressway, IL 53 starts out in Long Grove going southwest towards Palatine. South of Lake-Cook Road, IL 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, IL 53 is called Columbine Avenue.

South of the first junction with I-55, IL 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. IL 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 I-90 until that was changed to I-290.[citation needed]

In 1967 IL 53 was extended to Gardner, and in 1995 IL 129 was routed onto IL 53 south of Braidwood. This lasted a year until IL 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 I-355, IL 53 was moved off the I-290/I-355 combination south of Biesterfield Road and back onto its original alignment.[citation needed]

The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) proposed in 1999 to widen IL 53 south of US 20 (Lake Street) and generally north of I-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 to 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.[citation needed]


IL 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 currently runs from the freeway's current terminus at Lake–Cook Road north to a planned bypass for IL 120 near Grayslake.[4] 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 IL 53/IL 120 extension would form a large T-shape in the center of Lake County, with the IL 120 bypass carrying through traffic from US 12 to the Tri-State Tollway around Gurnee.[citation needed]

Additionally, a proposal was made as early as the 1960s to build a leg of the freeway from the end of the IL 120 bypass to the Wisconsin state line in Richmond. This route, known as the Richmond–Waukegan Expressway (FAP 420), would connect the partial US 12 interchange in Genoa City, Wisconsin, to the IL 53 extension. Due to funding constraints with IDOT, the Illinois General Assembly authorized the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority (ISTHA) to plan and construct the road in 1993.[5] The proposed highway has been largely dormant since the 1990s, due to major environmental concerns along the route.[6] While the project was never officially cancelled, this leg of the highway will likely never be built due to the aforementioned environmental impacts.

The IL 53 extension has been opposed by citizens in several organizations, notably the Illinois chapter of the Sierra Club, which represents thousands in Lake County and northeastern Illinois, and vocal residents of Long Grove, which lies directly in the path of the highway. The Sierra Club opposes the roadway extension due to the damage it would inflict on dozens of wetlands in the 10,000-acre (4,000 ha) 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.[7] 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.[citation needed]

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. [8] 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 IL 53 extension without asking voters to accept the cost or impacts.[9]

The extension is now proposed as a limited speed (45 miles per hour, 72 km/h) tolled parkway, and is currently under study by the Illinois Route 53/120 planning council.[10]

Major intersections[edit]

County Location mi 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
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 / IL 110 (CKC) (Ronald Reagan Memorial Tollway)
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)
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 (March 15, 2006). "Routes 41 thru 60". Illinois State Highways Page. Retrieved March 23, 2006. [self-published source]
  2. ^ a b Illinois Technology Transfer Center (2006). "T2 GIS Data". Illinois Department of Transportation. Retrieved November 8, 2007. 
  3. ^ Springfield Bureau (May 26, 1988). "Expressway Projects on the List for Chicago Area". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved June 25, 2008. 
  4. ^ Map of Route 53/120 North Extension Proposed alignment for IL Route 53/120 North Extension Retrieved May 18, 2012.
  5. ^ Ibata, David. "Tollway Agency, IDOT to Share Planning for Illinois 53 Extension". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved January 24, 2015. 
  6. ^ Spencer, LeAnn. "Activists Fear Illinois 53 Perils 2 Pristine Sites". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved January 24, 2015. 
  7. ^ "Guide to Route 53 Extension (FAP 342)". Illinois Sierra Club. Retrieved April 11, 2006. 
  8. ^ "Home Page". Build 53 Now!. Retrieved April 11, 2006. 
  9. ^ "Illinois Route 53 Extension Referendum Results, April 7, 2009 Unofficial Results" (PDF). Lake County Government. Retrieved August 8, 2010. [dead link]
  10. ^ "Illinois Route 53/120 Blue Ribbon Advisory Council". 

External links[edit]

Route map: Bing