The Illinois Tollway received national accolades for its Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90) Rebuilding and Widening Project during the ACEC Engineering Excellence Awards Gala in Washington, D.C.
The American Council of Engineering Companies presented Tollway Board Chairman Bob Schillerstrom with the 2018 National Recognition Award on April 17.
The four-year project involved more than 540 firms, including 415 construction companies and 125 professional engineering services firms, with more than 200 firms identified as disadvantaged, minority- and women-owned business enterprise firms and veteran-owned businesses.
Completed in 2016, the project employed about 650 construction workers who joined forces to overcome numerous hurdles.
“The tollway project team successfully completed a complex rebuild and widening of I-90 despite tight confines, unique utility and environmental challenges and an aggressive schedule,” says ACEC President and CEO Dave Raymond.
Addition of SmartRoad and Flex Lanes lauded nationally
“The addition of advanced transportation elements such as SmartRoad and Flex Lanes makes the project extremely worthy of national recognition and praise.”
The I-90 project rebuilt and widened 62 miles of roadway in each direction between the Tri-State Tollway (I-294) near O’Hare International Airport and I-39 in Rockford. There were also improvements to 16 interchanges and more than 100 bridges.
Exemplary engineering despite many challenges
“The I-90 Project was selected for exemplary engineering achievement due to the project team’s ability to successfully overcome numerous challenges to complete the $2.5 billion project on time and within budget,” a press release says.
The awards recognize projects nationally and internationally on uniqueness and originality, technical innovation, social and economic value and “generating excitement” in the engineering profession, the press release says.
“The Illinois Tollway had a great team of professionals working together to make travel in the I-90 corridor faster, safer and more efficient for Tollway customers,” Schillerstrom says.
“Our investments in I-90 are delivering the benefits we promised to our customers and the communities we serve – greater access that is stimulating economic growth and job creation throughout the region.”
A flexible infrastructure
In addition to delivering a new roadway, the new I-90 features flexible infrastructure and technology to enable the Tollway to add new “smart” features as needed and introduced the region’s first SmartRoad in 2017, communicating real-time roadway and traffic information to drivers and delivering a 21st century corridor.
The project accommodates Flex Lanes for transit and direct access for the public to Pace Bus service for the first time in the agency’s history.
Part of a bigger, $14 billion capital program
The I-90 Rebuilding and Widening Project is part of the Tollway’s 15-year, $14 billion capital program, Move Illinois: The Illinois Tollway Driving the Future. The I-90 corridor serves nearly 1 million travelers per day between Rockford and downtown Chicago via roadway travel and public transit, including CTA and Pace service.
Improvements are projected to save drivers up to 30 minutes on the average trip from Rockford to O’Hare Airport, save drivers 27 minutes on the average trip from Elgin to the Kennedy Expressway and save drivers $440 million annually in fuel and productivity costs, according to the press release.