Land. Air. Water. No matter what you’re “shipping,” northwest Illinois offers fast and easy access to nearly any form of transportation, without the burden of large metropolitan congestion. Even your morning commute is easy and stress-free, with major highways and interstates woven through our communities and countryside.
LAND – HIGHWAYS AND INTERSTATES
U.S. Highway 20 opens to a four-lane divided highway outside Chicago and skirts both Rockford (89 miles west of Chicago) and Freeport (24 miles west of Rockford), before narrowing to a two-lane as it continues through northwest Illinois into Dubuque, Iowa.
Rockford links with Interstates 90 (east/west) and 39 (north/south), giving northwest Illinois residents easy access to the entire Interstate. I-90 is the major route between Chicago, Illinois, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Illinois State Routes 26 and 75 tie Freeport with neighboring communities in Stephenson County, as well as Madison and Beloit, Wisconsin. South of Freeport, Highway 26 meets I-88, a major Interstate for east/west markets.
The businesses and industries in northwest Illinois are also served by some fifty motor freight carriers. One of the freight hauling companies has a terminal in Freeport.
RAIL – FAST, RELIABLE 24/7 OPERATIONS
The Canadian National Railroad runs west from Chicago through northwest Illinois, with more than 15 stations between Rockford, Freeport and Galena, where it reaches the Mississippi River before turning north to Dubuque, Iowa.
Union Pacific’s Rochelle Global III Intermodal Terminal is a state-of-the-art facility for rail intermodal shipments moving through northern Illinois, western Iowa and Wisconsin. Strategically located in Rochelle, on the growth edge of Chicago’s westward commercial frontier, it covers 1,200 acres and includes a large switching yard. The intermodal terminal has a 720,000 lift capability, a 10-lane gate entrance and a 7,200 unit container/trailer yard at full build-out. Refrigerated cars and U.S. Custom services are also available.
The Savanna Depot Park is located on Illinois 84 between Savanna and Hanover in northwestern Illinois. It is home to the Jo-Carroll Foreign Trade Zone #271* (FTZ#271), serving the tri-state area of Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin. The site has over 2,900 acres of developable land and over one million sq. ft. of existing warehouse and manufacturing space waiting to serve your needs. The zone is operated by Illinois International Trade Centers who offer all the services necessary to get your product cost-effectively and profitably to and from the North America marketplace. Read more about the benefits of Foreign Trade Zones* at the bottom of this page.
AIR – FROM O’HARE TO GRASS RUNWAYS
Whether flying is your personal passion or your company’s favored transportation, northwest Illinois offers easy access to airports.
Chicago O’Hare International Airport, which consistently ranks in the top 10 in North America and the top 25 in the world in terms of annual air cargo volume, is about 90 minutes from Stephenson County. Midway Airport, also located in Chicago, Illinois, and Mitchell Airport in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, are approximately two hours from Freeport, the center of our northwest Illinois region.
Greater Rockford Airport, located in the southwest corner of Rockford, is rapidly becoming a major transportation center for the Midwest. It offers 24/7 services, excellent facilities, a congestion-free airspace and proximity to a major intermodal transportation hub. Eight air freight services use the airport, which is 35th in the nation in the number of cargo flights. It is the second busiest UPS hub in the United States. It is Foreign Trade Zone #176* and a Port of Entry for U.S. Customs.
Private and corporate aircraft use Freeport’s Albertus Airport, located three miles south of the city. The airport accommodates small jets with full ILS system approach, and a 5,500′ long full grooved, paved and lighted runway. In addition, it has two grass runways, 2,700 and 2,800 feet in length that are used by small privately owned planes. The airport offers training and charter service.
If flying is your passion, take advantage of more than a dozen small public and privately owned airports that dot our region. Join a flying club to use member-owned planes and facilities, or build your own airstrip. Our rural landscape is the perfect setting! See the airports in northwest Illinois by choosing “airports” in the “MAP LAYERS” drop-down menu on our Site Selector Workspace map.
WATER – THE MIDWEST’S BIGGEST WATERWAY
The Mississippi River, which runs along the western edge of Illinois, provides convenient water access for oversized cargo, offering significant cost savings compared to landlocked locations that must depend solely on overland transportation.
The river’s tributaries to the Great Lakes and Gulf of Mexico offer expeditious routes to Europe, where governments have made significant commitments to industries such as wind energy.
These waterborne resources are well integrated with other transportation infrastructure, particularly rail. Our region has 46 private and four public barge terminals, with 23 offering direct rail access.
Location on the Mississippi River provides access to the Gulf of Mexico, the Great Lakes, and foreign ports
- Mississippi River: 9-foot channel, 10-month navigation season
- The region features 50 barge terminals (46 private, four public)
- 23 barge terminals are served by rail
- Three barge terminals have highway access
Source: U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, 2012
*Foreign Trade Zones
The FTZ program is a partnership of the U.S. government and private sector importers. Each approved location is specially-designated and considered to be outside of U.S. Customs territory. For that reason, when cargo arrives in the country for an FTZ operator, it does not immediately clear Customs. The cargo receives preferential treatment with duties deferred, reduced or eliminated. In addition, there are supply chain, inventory control and other savings available through the FTZ program. Businesses must apply to become an FTZ operator and receive benefits. Benefits vary by applicant, although some may be able to operate within 3-4 months of application and reach their Return on Investment in 6-12 months.