U.S. Route 12 in Illinois

From the AARoads Wiki: Read about the road before you go
Jump to navigation Jump to search

U.S. Route 12

Iron Brigade Memorial Highway
US 12 highlighted in red
Route information
Maintained by IDOT and CDOT
Length85.14 mi[1] (137.02 km)
Existed1928 (1928)[2]–present
Major junctions
West end US 12 near Richmond
Major intersections
East end US 12 / US 20 / US 41 in Chicago
CountryUnited States
CountiesMcHenry, Lake, Cook
Highway system
IL 10 IL 13

U.S. Route 12 (US 12) in the U.S. state of Illinois is an arterial highway that runs northwest to southeast through the Chicago metropolitan area. It enters Illinois at the Wisconsin border north of Richmond, and exits into Hammond, Indiana, from Chicago near the foot of the onramp to the Indiana Toll Road (Interstate 90, or I-90); as it exits Illinois, the route is also concurrent with US 20 and US 41. Within Illinois, US 12 runs for a distance of 85.14 miles (137.02 km).[1]

Route description

Richmond to Des Plaines

The westernmost portion of US 12 in Illinois runs south from the Wisconsin border, between Genoa City, Wisconsin, and Richmond. North of Genoa City, US 12 is a four-lane limited-access freeway. In Illinois, it reverts to a two-lane, undivided surface road prior to a traffic light with Illinois Route 173 (IL 173) north of Richmond. South of Richmond, through traffic on US 12 must turn left at IL 31 to continue. It continues to the Fox Lake area, at which point it becomes a four-lane divided highway, with occasional interchanges.

US 12 runs concurrently with IL 59 south of Fox Lake at an access-controlled interchange, and then intersects with IL 134 at a traffic light. In Volo, there is a traffic light with IL 120, but then reverts to an expressway, with interchanges for IL 176 (Liberty Street) and IL 59. From the state line to this point, US 12 is also marked as the main route for the Fox River Valley, which continues south on IL 59.

In Lake Zurich, US 12 picks up the name Rand Road, named so for a former name of the city of Des Plaines.[3] There is also an intersection with IL 22 (Main Street). US 12 proceeds toward Deer Park and Kildeer before entering Cook County in Palatine. US 12 then briefly overlaps IL 53 between Hicks Road and IL 68 (Dundee Road) in northeast Palatine. At the expressway portion of IL 53, US 12 traffic can only access southbound IL 53.

From IL 53, US 12 travels through the heavily populated areas of Arlington Heights and Mount Prospect, intersecting with IL 83 (Elmhurst Road) in Mount Prospect. US 12 enters the Des Plaines area at IL 58 (Golf Road) and joins with US 45 (Des Plaines River Road) north of downtown at a complex intersection. Westbound US 12 traffic is required to cross US 45 twice (on Elk Boulevard) to access Rand Road, as all turns are prohibited from US 45 to US 12. Eastbound US 12 joins with southbound US 45.

In Des Plaines, US 12/US 45 separates, as southbound traffic travels on Graceland Avenue, while northbound traffic runs one block east. In downtown Des Plaines, US 12/45 has a major intersection with US 14 (Miner Street) at a busy at-grade crossing with the Harvard Subdivision of the Union Pacific Railroad.

Des Plaines to Hickory Hills

After turning south from Des Plaines, US 12/US 45 forms a major north–south artery through the western suburbs. North of Cermak Road, the route is known as Mannheim Road, while, south of Cermak Road, it is known as La Grange Road. The distance from the intersection of US 12/US 45 and US 14 in Des Plaines to the US 12/US 20/US 45 split in Hickory Hills is 9.97 miles (16.05 km).

US 12/US 45 runs through various streets in Des Plaines before following Mannheim Road north of O'Hare International Airport. This routing also closely parallels the north–south orientation of the Canadian National Railway rail line. US 12/US 45 intersects IL 72 (Higgins Road) at the northeast corner of the airport and then travels south along the eastern border of the airport. There is a full interchange with I-190 for passenger airport traffic. At the southeast corner of the airport, a signalized intersection terminates a brief expressway portion of IL 19 (Irving Park Road).

South of Irving Park Road, US 12/US 45 travels beneath the Bensenville Bridge on I-294 (Tri-State Tollway) while also crossing over the Franklin Park railyard; however, there is no interchange with I-294 at this point. This rail line also carries Metra Milwaukee District West trains. In Melrose Park, US 12/US 45 has a grade-separated intersection with IL 64 (North Avenue), a major east–west artery west of Chicago. About a mile (1.6 km) south, US 20 joins with US 12/US 45 to form a triple concurrency over the Union Pacific Railroad's Proviso Yard as well as the mainline tracks of the Geneva Subdivision.

US 12/US 20/US 45 continues south and becomes the eastern endpoints of two state routes: IL 56 in Bellwood and IL 38 in Westchester. In between lies a full intersection with I-290 (Eisenhower Expressway). In downtown La Grange, US 12/US 20/US 45 intersects with US 34 (Ogden Avenue), making it the only location in the Chicago area (and possibly the state of Illinois) where four U.S. Highways intersect. In addition, there is a level-grade crossing with BNSF Railway tracks very near the intersection, which leads to frequent traffic backups and delays.[4]

South of La Grange, US 12/US 20/US 45 has a full interchange with I-55 (Stevenson Expressway). It then crosses the Des Plaines River and Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal before a complex interchange with IL 171 (Archer Avenue). A ramp from I-294 to US 12/US 20/US 45 formerly existed but was removed in the late 1990s due to safety concerns. Just south of the Tri-State Tollway, US 12/US 20/US 45 becomes southbound 96th Avenue, passing through the Forest Preserve District of Cook County for nearly two miles (3.2 km) before US 12/US 20 split from US 45 onto eastbound 95th Street.

Hickory Hills to Chicago

After turning off the US 45 routing in Hickory Hills, US 12/US 20 runs east on 95th Street for 16.31 miles (26.25 km)—combined with a concurrency with US 41, this segment runs for an additional 18.02 miles (29.00 km) into the state of Indiana.

The 95th Street portion of US 12/US 20 is a four-lane undivided arterial surface street through the southern suburbs of Palos Hills, Bridgeview, Oak Lawn, and Evergreen Park. It serves the main commercial areas of these communities and the Chicago south side neighborhoods of Beverly, Washington Heights, Roseland, Burnside, Pullman, Calumet Heights, South Deering, and East Side.

In Bridgeview, US 12/US 20 has interchanges with I-294 and IL 43 (Harlem Avenue). In Oak Lawn, it intersects IL 50 (Cicero Avenue). Further east, in Chicago, US 12/US 20 nearly intersects IL 1 (Halsted Street); IL 1 technically terminates at I-57 a half mile (0.80 km) south. US 12/US 20 then has an interchange with I-94 (Dan Ryan Expressway) just north of the I-57/I-94 split. Shortly after bridging the Calumet River, US 12/US 20 joins with US 41.

The concurrent US 12/US 20/US 41 combination runs south on Ewing Avenue beneath the Chicago Skyway, narrowing from two northbound and southbound lanes to one northbound and one southbound lane before turning onto Indianapolis Boulevard, a six-lane divided highway. At 104th Street, there is a traffic light for a relocated offramp (from 106th Street) from the Chicago Skyway to Indianapolis Boulevard. The southbound onramp to the Indiana Toll Road is still located at 106th Street.

The Illinois portion of US 12/US 20/US 41 terminates beneath the I-90 bridge over Indianapolis Boulevard; this is also where the Chicago Skyway becomes the Indiana Toll Road.


In 1928, US 12 followed its current route south from Wisconsin into Richmond. It then continued straight on what is now IL 31 to Crystal Lake and then ran along what is now US 14 into Chicago. This route began to be depicted on Chicago maps in 1932 along the Northwest Highway, Foster Avenue, Lake Shore Drive, South Parkway (now most likely the 57th Street/Cornell Avenue combination), Stony Island Avenue, and 95th Street.

From 1928 to 1929, the section between the Wisconsin state line to Crystal Lake was being constructed; this segment was designated Temporary U.S. Route 12 (Temp. US 12) at the time.

In 1938, US 12 was moved north off the US 14 routing to the current routing to Des Plaines. In addition, US 12 was moved to what is now Mannheim Road, La Grange Road, and 95th Street. The former US 12 became U.S. Route 12 City (US 12 City).[5][6]

In 1939, US 12 was moved to a bypass around Lake Zurich and widened to four lanes. Old Rand Road was the name given to the former US 12 alignment.[6] The original 1939 Elgin, Joliet and Eastern Railway Railroad 4 span concrete bridge over the US 12 bypass remains in Lake Zurich with telegraph poles visible on the bridge. The original pot hole full 1939 asphalt pavement has since been resurfaced including replacing with concrete lanes and widening from through lanes to six through lanes between IL 22 and Ela Road in a project in 2007.

In the early 1950s, US 12 was moved to a bypass around Wauconda and widened to four lanes extending to IL 120 in Volo. Old Rand Road was the name given to the former US 12 alignment.[7][8] The original pothole-full 1950s asphalt pavement with double yellow lines visible in the west bound lanes between Old McHenry and Old Rand roads has since been resurfaced in 2013. Mature trees in the interchange grassy areas and 1950s style motels remain in Wauconda.

In the late 1950s, US 12 was widened to four lanes extending to Fox Lake.[9][10] Mature trees lining the frontage roads and 1950s-style motels and diners remain in Fox Lake. US 12 in Illinois has not been widened further northwest since then.

There were no further changes to the US 12 routing until 1960, when US 12 City became U.S. Route 12 Business (US 12 Bus.).[10] In 1963, US 12 was moved onto the Chicago Skyway and became U.S. Route 12 Toll Business (US 12 Toll Bus.) until 1968, when all US 12 Bus. designations were dropped.[2][11]

In Illinois, the highway has been designated as the Iron Brigade Memorial Highway to honor the Civil War Union Army unit,[12] a designation it also has in Michigan,[13] Indiana,[14] and Wisconsin.[15]

Major intersections

All exits are unnumbered.

US 12 west – Lake Geneva
Continuation into Wisconsin
Richmond1.11.8 IL 173 (Kenosha Street)
IL 31 south (Richmond Road) – McHenry
Northern terminus of IL 31
LakeFox Lake13.020.9
IL 59 north
Western end of IL 59 concurrency; westbound exit and eastbound entrance
IL 134 east (Big Hollow Road)
Western terminus of IL 134
Volo16.827.0 IL 120 (Belvidere Road)
Wauconda21.434.4 IL 176 (Liberty Street)Diamond interchange
IL 59 south (Barrington Road)
Eastern end of IL 59 concurrency; westbound entrance and eastbound exit
Lake Zurich27.343.9 IL 22 (Main Street)
IL 53 north (Hicks Road)
Western end of IL 53 concurrency
IL 53 south / IL 68 (Dundee Road)
Eastern end of IL 53 concurrency
Arlington Heights34.255.0
IL 53 south
Partial diamond interchange
Mount Prospect39.062.8 IL 83 (Elmhurst Road, Main Street)
Des Plaines41.867.3 IL 58 (Golf Road)
US 45 north (Des Plaines River Road north)
Western end of US 45 concurrency
43.169.4 US 14 (Miner Street)
RosemontChicago line46.474.7 IL 72 (Higgins Road)
ChicagoEconomy Parking F, Rental Car ReturnWest end of expressway; no eastbound exit
47.776.8 I-190 (Kennedy Expressway) – Chicago, O'HareParclo interchange; no direct access from I-190 EB; I-190 west exits 2A-B
ChicagoSchiller Park lineBalmoral AvenueEast end of expressway
Schiller Park48.778.4

IL 19 (Irving Park Road) to I-294 Toll north
Franklin ParkFrontage RoadInterchange via connector roads
Melrose ParkStone Park line53.085.3 IL 64 (North Avenue)
Melrose ParkStone Park line53.786.4
US 20 west (Lake Street)
Western end of US 20 concurrency
BellwoodHillside line54.888.2
IL 56 west (Washington Boulevard)
Eastern terminus of IL 56
HillsideWestchester line55.689.5 I-290 / IL 110 (CKC)I-290 exit 17
IL 38 west (Roosevelt Road)
Eastern terminus of IL 38
La Grange59.395.4 US 34 (Ogden Avenue)
CountrysideHodgkins line62.099.8 Historic US 66 (Joliet Road)

I-55 (Stevenson Expressway) to I-294 Toll north – Chicago, St. Louis
I-55 exit 279
Willow Springs64.7104.1

IL 171 (Archer Avenue) to 79th Street / I-294 Toll south (Tri-State Tollway) – Indiana
Cloverleaf interchange; left exit eastbound
Hickory Hills66.5107.0
US 45 south (La Grange Road south)
Eastern end of US 45 overlap
I-294 Toll (Tri-State Tollway) – Wisconsin, Indiana
Tolled; I-294 exit 17
69.2111.4 IL 43 (Harlem Avenue)Cloverleaf interchange
Oak Lawn71.7115.4 IL 50 (Cicero Avenue)

Halsted Street to I-57 / I-94 east / IL 1
I-94 west (Dan Ryan Expressway)
I-94 exit 62
Stoney Island Avenue to I-94
Northern terminus of Stony Island Avenue expressway (southbound); at-grade street northbound
US 41 north / LMCT (Ewing Avenue north)
Western end of US 41 overlap

I-90 Toll west / Chicago Skyway west (Toll Bridge)
Signed as "To I-90 west"; access to I-90 east is in Indiana; I-90 exit 107

US 12 east / US 20 east / US 41 south / LMCT (Indianapolis Boulevard) – Hammond
Continuation into Indiana
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi


  1. ^ a b Illinois Technology Transfer Center (2007). "T2 GIS Data". Illinois Department of Transportation. Retrieved November 8, 2007.
  2. ^ a b Carlson, Rich (March 15, 2005). "Routes 1 thru 20". Illinois Highways Page. Retrieved June 4, 2006.
  3. ^ "History". City of Des Plaines. May 26, 2006. Retrieved June 5, 2006.
  4. ^ "Metra Schedule - BNSF line to Aurora" (PDF). Metra. Retrieved 2022-09-29.
  5. ^ Illinois Secretary of State; Rand McNally (1936). Road Map Illinois (Map). [c. 1:950,000 and c. 1:1,110,000]. Springfield: Illinois Secretary of State. Retrieved March 20, 2015 – via Illinois Digital Archives.
  6. ^ a b Illinois Secretary of State; Rand McNally (1939). Illinois Road Map (Map) (1939–1940 ed.). c. 1:918,720. Springfield: Illinois Secretary of State. Retrieved March 20, 2015 – via Illinois Digital Archives.
  7. ^ Illinois Secretary of State; Rand McNally (1940). Illinois Road Map (Map). c. 1:918,720. Springfield: Illinois Secretary of State. Retrieved March 20, 2015 – via Illinois Digital Archives.
  8. ^ Illinois Division of Highways (1955). Illinois Official Highway Map (Map). [1:805,000]. Springfield: Illinois Division of Highways. Retrieved March 20, 2015 – via Illinois Digital Archives.
  9. ^ Illinois Division of Highways; H.M. Gousha (1957). Illinois Official Highway Map (Map). [1:805,000]. Springfield: Illinois Division of Highways. Retrieved March 20, 2015 – via Illinois Digital Archives.
  10. ^ a b Illinois Division of Highways; H.M. Gousha (1960). Illinois Official Highway Map (Map). [1:790,00]. Springfield: Illinois Division of Highways. Retrieved March 20, 2015 – via Illinois Digital Archives.
  11. ^ Illinois Division of Highways (1968). Illinois Official Highway Map (Map). [1:772,500]. Springfield: Illinois Division of Highways. Retrieved March 20, 2015 – via Illinois Digital Archives.
  12. ^ Russell, Joyce (April 11, 2011). "U.S. 6, U.S. 12 memorials to soldiers of the Civil War". The Times of Northwest Indiana. p. A7. Retrieved December 9, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  13. ^ Michigan Legislature (October 26, 2001). "Section 250.1048". Michigan Compiled Laws. State of Michigan. Retrieved August 15, 2012.
  14. ^ "State Farm Sponsorship of Hoosier Helpers". Indiana Department of Transportation. June 16, 2009. Retrieved August 15, 2012.
  15. ^ "Commemorative Highways and Bridges". Wisconsin Department of Transportation. June 4, 2010. Retrieved August 15, 2012.

External links

U.S. Route 12
Previous state:
Illinois Next state: