In 2013, the Elgin O’Hare West Access Project (EOWA) was announced to connect the Elgin-O’Hare Expressway (IL-390) to O’Hare Airport and connect I-90 and I-294 via the new I-490 tollway.
As preparation for the construction project, we assessed stream sites in the corridor. We surveyed for aquatic macroinvertebrates, mussels, and fish at Higgins Creek, Salt Creek-Thorndale Ave., Salt Creek-Salt Creek Forest Preserve, and Spring Brook.
- Sensitive groups of macroinvertebrates (EPT) were absent or extremely depressed at some sites and replaced with more tolerant taxa (e.g., worms, isopods).
- Overall, 3 families of Ephemeroptera, no Plecoptera, and 4 families of Trichoptera were found
- Flatworms (Platyhelminthes), amphipods, oligochaete worms (Clitellata), and chironomids were collected at all sites
- Hydropsychid caddisflies (Hydropsychidae: Cheumatopsyche spp.), blackflies (Simuliidae: Simulium spp.), isopods (Asellidae: Caecidotea spp.) and snails (Gastropoda) were found at 3 out of 4 sites
- Native freshwater mussels were rarely encountered across the study sites.
- The 2 species found (P. grandis and L. complanata) are typically considered tolerant to poor water quality and use a suite of host fish for successful metamorphosis, allowing them to persist in degraded stream
- Historically, 10 species were found in that area
- 16 species of fish total
- Fish communities consisted of primarily common tolerant species.
- One species, Smallmouth Bass, is moderately intolerant
- Three most abundant species were Bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus), Blackstripe Topminnow (Fundulus notatus), and Bluntnose Minnow (Pimephales notatus)
Sivicek, V.A., S.A. Johnson, J.L. Jarvis, and M.J. Dreslik. 2019. Noxious and selected invasive plant populations along Illinois toll highway rights-of-way. Illinois Natural History Survey Technical Reports 2019 (28):1–87.
Bilger, E.E., A.J. Stites, J.L. Sherwood, S.A. Douglass, and M.J. Dreslik. 2017. Aquatic community surveys of the Elgin-O’Hare western access project area. Illinois Natural History Survey Technical Report. 2017(9):1–20.
Mui, Jennifer M., Michael J. Dreslik, and Charles A. Warwick. 2021. Illinois Natural History Survey Urban Biotic Assessment Program 2015-2020. INHS Technical Report 2021 (02).
For more information on construction visit the Illinois Tollway website.