Illinois Route 137

Illinois Route 137 (IL 137) is a 23.49-mile-long (37.80 km) state highway in northeast Illinois. It runs from the Wisconsin Border north of Winthrop Harbor south to North Chicago, west to Libertyville, and then back northwest to Grayslake, terminating at IL 83 just south of IL 120.[1]

Illinois Route 137
Buckley Road
Sheridan Road
IL 137 highlighted in red
Route information
Maintained by IDOT
Length23.49 mi[1] (37.80 km)
Major junctions
West end IL 83 in Grayslake
  US 45 in Libertyville
I-94 in Green Oaks
US 41 in North Chicago
North end WIS 32 / CR A1 in Winthrop Harbor
Highway system
IL 136IL 138

The eastern portion of Illinois 137 carries part of the Amstutz Expressway, a short freeway between downtown Waukegan and Lake Michigan. It is also one of two J-shaped state roads in Illinois (the other being IL 157 in southwest Illinois).

Route description

Illinois 137 is called Buckley Road in the northwest-southeast segment, as well as the eastwest segment east of Illinois Route 21 (Milwaukee Avenue). Between these segments, in northern Libertyville, business addresses use Peterson Road, however street signs name it Buckley Road, which continues west as Illinois 137 turns northwest. In North Chicago, at the east end of the Buckley Road alignment, the route turns north where it cuts Naval Station Great Lakes into two areas, and becomes Sheridan Road for most of its remaining length to the Wisconsin state line. The exception is the Amstutz Expressway, which runs from Sheridan Road near the southern border of Waukegan to Greenwood Avenue roughly 2 miles (3.2 km) north, where the expressway abruptly ends; Illinois 137 follows Greenwood Avenue west a short distance back to Sheridan Road and continues north through Beach Park, Zion, and Winthrop Harbor before terminating at the state line. Sheridan Road continues north as Wisconsin Highway 32.

The Amstutz Expressway is a short, limited-access road located in downtown Waukegan. It was built in the 1970s to ease traffic in Waukegan’s downtown area, but is now also known as the "road to nowhere".[3] The 2.9-mile (4.7 km), four-lane highway was intended to be a connecting route for the downtown area, but a critical link through the neighboring village of North Chicago was never built, and the factories that the expressway was designed to serve have since closed. Today, the thoroughfare carries fewer than 15,000 vehicles per day.[4] Because it is used so little, this short stretch of highway has been the setting for filming such movies and television programs as Groundhog Day, The Blues Brothers,[5] The Ice Harvest, Batman Begins,[6] and Chicago Fire.[7]

In the early 2000s, proposals were made to remove the expressway, thus narrowing the space needed for roadway, and then moving the nearby railroad right-of-way to the unused expressway land as part of a revitalization project for the lakefront area.[8] Illinois 137 follows the entire length of the expressway, and received this designation in 1994 when Illinois 137 was extended north to the Wisconsin state line.[9]

The Amstutz Expressway was named after Mel Amstutz, a former Lake County Highway Superintendent.[10] In 2007, legislation was pending in the Illinois General Assembly to rename the expressway, Bobby Thompson Expressway, after the former mayor of North Chicago. The bill received unanimous support in the Illinois House of Representatives, but has not yet been voted on by the Illinois Senate.[11] This name change took effect in 2010.[12]

Major intersections

The entire route is in Lake County.

Grayslake0.00.0 IL 83
1.82.9 US 45Interchange
LibertyvillePeterson Road – Lake County FairgroundWestbound exit and eastbound entrance; interchange
4.36.9 IL 21 (Milwaukee Avenue)
Green Oaks7.311.7
I-94 (Tri-State Tollway) Wisconsin, Indiana
I-94 exit 13
Green OaksNorth Chicago line7.912.7 IL 43 (Waukegan Road)
North Chicago8.714.0 US 41 (Skokie Highway)
9.515.3 IL 131 (Green Bay Road)
Buckley Road east to Sheridan RoadIL 137 changes from east–west to north–south
24th StreetInterchange; no northbound entrance
WaukeganGenesee Street (Sheridan Road)Southern end of freeway
Grand AvenueInterchange; former IL 132 west
Greenwood Avenue eastNorthern end of freeway
Zion21.334.3 IL 173 west (21st Street, 173rd Airborne Brigade Highway)
Winthrop Harbor23.4937.80 WIS 32 north / LMCT / CR A1 west (Russell Road)Wisconsin state line
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi


  1. Illinois Technology Transfer Center (2006). "T2 GIS Data". Retrieved 2007-11-08.
  2. Carlson, Rich. Illinois Highways Page: Routes 121 thru 140. Last updated April 15, 2005. Retrieved April 19, 2006.
  3. The Road To Nowhere - Chicago Tribune
  4. Illinois Department of Transportation (2006). "Getting Around Illinois". Archived from the original on 2007-02-19. Retrieved 2007-03-08.
  5. Ground Hog Day Trivia
  6. Cinema Review. Batman Begins Production Notes
  7. Visit Lake County - Filming Chicago Fire In Waukegan - YouTube
  8. Campaign for Sensible Growth, March 20, 2002
  9. Carlson, Rich. Illinois Highways Page: Routes 121 thru 140. Last updated April 15, 2005. Retrieved August 9, 2006.
  10. Plummer, Andy (2006). "Stratton's Tollway". Retrieved 2006-10-02.
  11. 95th General Assembly. Bill Status of HJR0075 - Bobby E. Thompson Expressway.
  12. Google (March 4, 2017). "Overview Map of IL 137" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved March 4, 2017.

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