Travel & Tourism
U.S. Department of Transportation Gives Final Approval for Elgin O’Hare Western Access Project PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Travel & Tourism
Written by Leslie Wertheimer   
Friday, 25 January 2013 15:42

‘Move Illinois’ Project will Reduce Traffic Congestion, Create 65,000 New Jobs by 2040 

CHICAGO – January 24, 2013. Governor Pat Quinn and the Illinois Tollway today announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation has approved the final agreement that will allow the Illinois Tollway to construct the Elgin O’Hare Western Access Project.  This sign off completes the last step in the federal review and approval process.

At the direction of Governor Quinn, the Illinois Tollway and Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) have been working with federal officials to secure the final authorization for the $3.4 billion project as part of the Illinois Tollway’s 15-year, $12 billion capital program, Move Illinois: The Illinois Tollway Driving the Future.  The project will boost long-term economic development in northeastern Illinois and provide congestion relief that is projected to save drivers $145 million a year in time and fuel costs.

“This critical step towards construction of the Elgin O’Hare Western Access Project is a testament to the strong support from Illinois to Washington D.C. to improve mobility throughout the region,” Governor Pat Quinn said. “I spoke with Secretary LaHood last night about the tremendous economic benefits that will result from this project, which will put thousands of Illinois men and women to work.”

The Elgin O'Hare Western Access Project has been in the works for decades and is considered a “Project of National and Regional Significance” by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

"I am pleased that we found a solution, so that when built, this project can provide mobility for the people of Illinois for generations to come,” said U.S Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. “I look forward to continuing to work with Governor Quinn on this critical project."

“With this milestone, Illinois is well-positioned to implement this historic project, setting the stage for economic growth for decades to come,” said Illinois Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur.

The Elgin O’Hare Western Access Project will include construction of a new, all-electronic toll road around the western border of O'Hare International Airport linking the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90) and the Tri-State Tollway (I-294), the extension of the Elgin O'Hare Expressway east along Thorndale Avenue to O'Hare and the rehabilitation and widening of the existing Elgin O'Hare Expressway.  The project is also expected to create as many as 65,000 direct and indirect jobs by 2040 when combined with completion of the western terminal at O’Hare Airport.

"The quick federal approval for this critically important project is a testament to the leadership of Governor Quinn and the close partnership of the Illinois Tollway and IDOT," said IDOT Secretary Ann Schneider. "It will create thousands of good jobs, strengthen the state's position as the transportation hub for the nation and lay the foundation for the continued long-term economic development of northeastern Illinois."

The Tollway is planning to spend $95.6 million in 2013 for work on the Elgin O’Hare Western Access Project.  Potential 2013 construction includes noise walls along the existing Elgin O’Hare Expressway, Rohlwing Road (Illinois Route 53) grade separation and the southbound Elmhurst Road over I-90 bridge. The actual location and schedule of construction will depend on land acquisition, permits, agreements and utility relocations.

The 2013-2025 implementation plan is broadly supported by local governments and represents a fiscally responsible approach to address the area's diverse travel needs - improving travel efficiency, providing western access to O'Hare, enhancing multi-modal connections and reducing congestion.

About Move Illinois

The Illinois Tollway’s $12 billion capital program, Move Illinois: The Illinois Tollway Driving the Future, will improve mobility, relieve congestion, reduce pollution, create as many as 120,000 jobs and link economies across the Midwest region. Move Illinois will address the remaining needs of the existing Tollway system; rebuild and widen the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90) as a state-of-the-art 21st century corridor; construct a new interchange to connect the Tri-State Tollway (I-294) to I-57; build a new, all-electronic Elgin O’Hare Western Access and fund planning studies for the Illinois Route 53/120 Extension and the Illiana Expressway.

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).



Governor Quinn Announces $9 Million Capital Investment in Airports Across Illinois PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Travel & Tourism
Written by Erin Wilson   
Thursday, 24 January 2013 08:41
Program Will Create Hundreds of Jobs, Improve19 Airports and Increase Public Safety

CHICAGO - January 23, 2013. Governor Pat Quinn and Illinois Department of Transportation Secretary Ann L. Schneider today announced a $9 million investment that will create hundreds of construction jobs while improving 19 airports across the state. Illinois’ State-Local Airport Improvement Program for Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 will rehabilitate aging infrastructure, improve accessibility for travelers and businesses and maximize economic development opportunities at Illinois airports from Cairo to Moline. The program is funded by $7.3 million from Governor Quinn’s Illinois Jobs Now! capital program and a local match of $1.6 million.

“Maintaining and improving Illinois’ aviation infrastructure is vitally important to meeting the needs of travelers and small businesses, and ensuring the safety of airport workers,” Governor Quinn said. “Airports are a local economic engine for communities, regional trades and professional services, and are essential to making sure Illinois remains competitive in today’s growing economy. This major investment will generate hundreds of direct and indirect jobs, improve accessibility and further strengthen Illinois’ position as a national leader in infrastructure.”

The wide variety of airport improvement projects include the rehabilitation of a terminal and a number of taxiways, aircraft parking ramps and entrance roads and the modification of major parking lots. In addition, the construction of an automatic weather observation system in Mt. Sterling will significantly improve safety for the flying public.

“We are extremely proud to announce the FY13 State-Local Airport Improvement Program, and remain committed to making the financial investments needed to maintain and improve our existing aviation infrastructure,” Secretary Schneider said. “This critically important maintenance program for airports statewide would not have been possible without Governor Quinn’s leadership and his Illinois Jobs Now! plan.”

Illinois’ aviation system is comprised of nearly 80 publicly-owned airports and is vital to a healthy economy. A recent economic impact study reported that Illinois airports contribute more than $40 billion to local economies:


Make Plans to Attend the 2013 Iowa State Fair PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Travel & Tourism
Written by Lori Chappell   
Monday, 21 January 2013 09:50

DES MOINES, IA (01/18/2013)(readMedia)-- Plans are underway for the 2013 Iowa State Fair, including over $600,000 in family-friendly entertainment, all free with gate admission. Mark your calendars – August 8-18 – and experience for yourself why "Nothing Compares" to the Iowa State Fair.

Buy your tickets now and save nearly 40 percent off admission to the 2013 Iowa State Fair. Through February 28, advance admission tickets are just $7 for adults (ages 12+) and $3 for children (ages 6-11). Fairgoers ages 5 and under are admitted free every Fair day.

Tickets are available now at Choose our convenient print-at-home option and enjoy immediate delivery of your tickets, or, through February 28, opt to have them mailed to you directly for free. Tickets can also be purchased at the Administration Building on the Fairgrounds between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. (Monday - Friday). Act now to take advantage of the 2012 pricing.

Effective March 1, the price of gate admission will increase by $1 per ticket. This increase will apply to all gate admission including day-of and advanced admission tickets. The price of Fair Play Packs for adults (ages 12+) and children (ages 6-11) and punch cards, good for 11 days of adult admission, will increase $1 per ticket per day.

More details about Grandstand and free stage acts will be available on the Fair's website in the spring.

Nothing Compares to the 2013 Iowa State Fair August 8-18. For more information, call 800/545-FAIR or check out

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Show Your Love for the Iowa State Fair! PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Travel & Tourism
Written by Jenna Beary   
Friday, 18 January 2013 16:24

DES MOINES, IA (01/18/2013)(readMedia)-- What's not to love about the great Iowa State Fair? From funnel cakes, ferris wheels, food on a stick and free entertainment, to premier livestock events, expansive art exhibits and the country's largest state fair food department, the Iowa State Fair has something for everyone. This year, Iowans can show their love for the Fair on their tax returns and help the Fair continue on the path of preserving the historic Fairgrounds.

Look for the State Fairgrounds Renovation Check Off on line 58b of Iowa Tax Form 1040 or on line 14 of Iowa Tax Form 1040A and check off $1 (or more!) to help preserve the historic Iowa State Fairgrounds. Your gift is either deducted from your refund or added to the amount due. Contributions to the Corndog Checkoff are fully tax-deductible.

"Participating in the Corndog Checkoff is just one more way Iowans have shown their love for the Iowa State Fair. Funds raised through this program are an important part of the preservation of this great institution for future generations," said Blue Ribbon Foundation Executive Director John Putney.

Every dollar donated to the Checkoff is directly allocated to capital improvements. The Corndog Checkoff has raised over $1.7 million, and has supplemented restoration projects from the Grandstand to Ye Old Mill. In addition, funds generated by the Checkoff have helped improve the campgrounds, parking areas, sidewalks and restrooms.

The Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization. Since its inception in 1993, the Foundation has generated over $95 million for renovations and improvements to the Iowa State Fairgrounds. For more information on the Corndog Tax Checkoff, please contact the Blue Ribbon Foundation at (800) 450-3732 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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Enjoy Winter Outdoors In Missouri PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Travel & Tourism
Written by Stephen Foutes   
Wednesday, 16 January 2013 13:37

Enjoy Winter Outdoors In Missouri

Jefferson City, Mo. — We know it is tempting to just sit in your living room and wait for spring; after all, it is warm and dry in there. As winter tightens its grip, a person’s fancy often turns to thoughts of . . . skiing (snow, not water) and canoeing.

You can do both right here, in Missouri. No need for a 12-hour road trip through treacherous mountain terrain, or to endure the long, demanding lines of airport security. Missouri’s tourism website, VisitMO, has listings for everything you need to get out and experience nature, even in winter.

Missouri has two venues for swishing down the slopes: Snow Creek, north of Kansas City, and Hidden Valley, on the western fringe of St. Louis. Both are perfect for an exhilarating afternoon, regardless of your skill level. Just pick your ride of choice, from downhill or cross-country skis, to snowboards, to tubes, and enjoy a refreshing day outdoors. Yes, both offer professional instructors.

Snow Creek is about 10 minutes north of Weston; a half hour south of St. Joseph. Their state-of-the-art snowmaking machines can blanket the hillside with 12 inches of snow. The venue has a total vertical drop of 300 feet; a 700-foot long tube area; and a terrain section for snowboards. One-day, two-day and season tickets are offered.

The lodge at Snow Creek includes a bar, cafeteria, picnic and barbecue area, a bonfire pit, equipment rentals, souvenir and gift shop, an award-winning ski school, and (just in case) a first-aid station. They hold nighttime sessions some weekends. Watch their website for details.

To make a weekend of it, stay just down the road, in Weston — voted Missouri’s No. 1 Day Trip by Ingram’s Magazine, and the No. 1 Best Overnight Destination by

  • Weston Bend State Park has hiking trails that meander through the woods and along a bluff with great views of the Missouri river. Picnic sites and camping are available if the weather is good.
  • Visit Pirtle Winery, known for their fine Missouri wines and meads (mead is wine made from honey).
  • Unwind at O'Malley's Pub, an Irish microbrewery and restaurant.
  • The American Bistro-style cuisine at the Avalon Cafe, situated in an 1847 home, has dishes ranging from pizza to wild boar, pasta to beef steaks, elk loin to chicken.
  • For a down-home meal and scrumptious breakfast, try the Weston Cafe.
  • Spend a relaxing night at the Inn at Weston Landing, a four-guestroom bed and breakfast, built in 1842.
  • The 26-guestroom Saint George Hotel opened its doors in 1845. The hotel has been renovated with modern conveniences, while maintaining its original architectural style and beauty.

Across the state, in Wildwood (a western suburb of St. Louis), the skiing hot spot is Hidden Valley ski resort. Their snowmaking system can provide all the snow necessary for skiing, tubing and snowboarding, on 30 acres with an overall 310-foot vertical drop. The ski lodge holds a bar, cafeteria, equipment rentals, and (just in case) a first-aid station. Certified instructors offer skiing and snowboarding instructions (all levels and ages; private and group). Trails at Hidden Valley are lighted for night skiing and special moonlight sessions, some of which last until 3 a.m. Day tickets, group and senior rates, and season passes are available.

After a day on the slopes, it’s about 10 minutes to Eureka, where you can relax, dine and spend the night.

  • A highlight of the Eureka area, Route 66 State Park features an original section of old Route 66, plus a visitor center with Route 66 and Times Beach exhibits, Meramec River access, picnic areas and shelters, and trails for hiking, bicycling and horseback riding.
  • Plan ahead and make reservations to tour the Endangered Wolf Center. This internationally recognized captive breeding facility raises endangered wolves and releases them into the wild. This is a fascinating attraction you’ll never forget.
  • The Holiday Inn at Six Flags features a heated indoor pool, arcade games, a bar and a restaurant (kids eat free).
  • Chow down on some of the best barbecue in America at Super Smokers Barbecue Restaurant. This is the home of the St. Louis area’s only World Champion BBQ team; their award-winning barbecue sauce is available on-site and at grocery stores throughout the Midwest.
  • If barbecue isn’t your thing, try Poor Richard's Restaurant, where they serve two tons of chicken wings every week, in addition to fish, steaks and daily specials.

Not into snow skiing? How about floating a cool Missouri stream? Yes, in winter. This is a swell season to enjoy the solitude, while drifting along in a canoe . . . and it isn’t crowded. The water this time of year is especially clear; the winter views give you a different perspective of the Missouri countryside; fishing is always good; and there is an abundance of camping and cooking spots on gravel bars. Caution: take extra clothes in a dry-bag, just in case.

About 10 miles east of Steelville, the folks at Bass' River Resort can set you up for a trip on three rivers: the Courtois, the Huzzah and the Meramec. Their facilities include tent camping sites, RV sites and cabins. In January, they offer one free canoe rental with the rental of a log cabin; other specials apply in February and March.

  • Seven miles southeast of Steelville, unwind and refresh at Westover Farms, on 475 acres adjacent to the Mark Twain National Forest. Stay the weekend, or longer, in one of their hand-hewn log and stone cabins, equipped with modern conveniences, a wood-burning fire place, and a full kitchen; just take your own food. Hike and bike the trails; fish for rainbow trout year-round; and visit the on-site fish hatchery. Do not take your own firewood.
  • While you are in the area, visit Peaceful Bend Winery and try some outstanding Missouri wine. From the coziness of the tasting room, it is a short hike to the banks of the Meramec River, where the wintertime views are worth the walk.

Outdoor and nature enthusiasts are sure to enjoy Missouri’s wintering eagle population. America’s symbolic bald eagles can be spotted along open waterways and lakes throughout Missouri. In winter, Missouri’s resident eagle population is supplemented by migrating birds from the north, with numbers reaching more than 2,500 eagles, the second-largest number of wintering eagles in the lower 48 states.

Several organized “Eagle Days” are held, giving you the opportunity to witness these magnificent birds in their natural habitat. These events include discussions by professional naturalists; spotting scopes for an up-close-and-personal view and refreshments are usually available.

For eagle viewing on your own, try:

Missouri has an abundance of outdoor winter activities; these are but a few ideas. The key is . . . get outside and experience this diverse and fascinating season. There is no need to get the winter blahs.

To find more exciting things to do, information about lodging, attractions, events and dining across Missouri, check out

About the Missouri Division of Tourism
The Missouri Division of Tourism (MDT) is the official tourism office for the state of Missouri dedicated to marketing Missouri as a premier travel destination. Established in 1967, the Missouri Division of Tourism has worked hard to develop the tourism industry in Missouri to what it is today, an $11.2 billion industry supporting more than 279,000 jobs and generating $627 million in state taxes in Fiscal Year 2011. For every dollar spent on marketing Missouri as a travel destination in FY11, $57.76 was returned in visitor expenditures. For more information on Missouri tourism, go to

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