Northeastern Illinois Roadsides


2015 Merit Award


6-County Metro Chicago Area, Illinois


10,000 Acres


Illinois Department of Transportation


Planning and Analysis

Landscape Architects

Project Details

Within the 6-county area of northeastern Illinois, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) is responsible for 28,000 centerline miles of roadways. Associated with this major transportation network, but often overlooked, are 10,000 acres of roadside landscapes adjacent to toll-free expressways and primary routes. This project was the culmination of a multi-year effort to document thousands of acres of roadsides and comprehensively, efficiently, and sustainably guide the development and management of these landscapes.

Hey and Associates, Inc. collected field data necessary to prepare GIS-based mapping and databases for thousands of acres of expressway and state arterial route roadsides. This data included vegetative cover type, invasive weed populations, and roadside structures. In addition to location, descriptors were added to create a relational database that can be used to streamline roadside maintenance. Results of these efforts will make roadside landscape maintenance more sustainable and efficient via reduced mowing frequency, more efficient use of herbicides, and the use of integrated pest management techniques—a system labeled Targeted Vegetation Management (TVM).

New maintenance contracts were developed to specifically address more natural roadside landscapes such as prairies and wetlands without increasing overall roadside management funding. The devastating impacts of the Emerald Ash Borer on the roadside urban forest were also inventoried and analyzed, resulting in allocation of additional funding to remove hazards presented by thousands of dead and dying ash trees along roadways.

GIS mapping and database information, coupled with the TVM approach, were also extensively used to inform millions of dollars of roadside improvements associated with major roadway construction projects including the Eisenhower/I-290 expressway resurfacing in 2010; I-80 expressway additional lanes and resurfacing in 2011; I-55 expressway reconstruction in 2013; and Bishop Ford expressway reconstruction in 2014.


Project Team: Upland Design Ltd

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