Cook County (Illinois) Highway Department named ‘Public Agency of the Year’

WEST COXSACKIE, N.Y. – (Feb. 9, 2010) – The International Grooving and Grinding Association (IGGA) – a non-profit organization dedicated to serving as the leading promotional and technical resource for acceptance and proper use of diamond grinding and grooving as well as pavement preservation and restoration markets – has selected the Cook County Highway Department as the Government/Public Agency of the Year.

John Roberts, executive director of the IGGA, says the purpose of the award is to recognize a government or public official for leadership in transportation activities with special emphasis on grooving, grinding and concrete pavement preservation (CPP). Government and public officials at all levels of government within the United States are eligible and each candidate is judged on the following principles of leadership:

Creativity – The official must have demonstrated creative uses of grooving, grinding or CPP in solving transportation problems.

Integrity – The official should demonstrate a history of consistent and sound engineering decisions.

Professionalism – The official should be active within the transportation field by improving the standards of leadership and quality.

Teamwork – This is an important characteristic for any public official to exhibit. Involving the industry and/or the IGGA in the process of developing systems and projects is a key component in being considered for this award.

Although the award typically goes to one individual, this year, the association opted to recognize an entire transportation department based on its creativity, integrity, professionalism and commitment to the industry.

“I have been lucky enough to witness the creative use of concrete pavement preservation for the benefit of society as a whole,” Roberts said in a written statement. “The Cook County Highway Department has been extremely creative in integrating new tools in their toolbox, and the taxpayers will benefit from their efforts.”

The Cook County Highway Department has used diamond grinding – a method that involves removal of faulting, slab warping, studded tire wear and unevenness – on a variety of recent projects including Roselle Road, Wise Road to Bode Road; Schaumburg Road, IL19 to Sutton Road; Meacham Road, Nerge Road to Schaumburg Road; and Roselle Road, Devon Ave. to Wise Road.

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Also notable is the more than 300,000 square yards of pavements used diamond grinding in 2008 and 2009. The technique is credited with reducing noise and providing proper skid numbers to ensure safe travel.

Rupert Graham, Jr., P.E., Superintendent of the Cook County Highway Department, accepted the award on behalf of the department.

“The Cook County Highway Department is very appreciative of this recognition from the International Grooving and Grinding Association,” Graham said in a press release. “The Department is fortunate to have the leadership and encouragement of Todd H. Stroger, President of the Cook County Board of Commissioners, to pursue leading-edge technology that not only enhances the safety of the travelers on the roads in Cook County, but also effectively uses scarce financial resources.”

Graham noted that concrete pavement preservation/repair projects are critical in maintaining their infrastructure and the use of diamond grinding techniques has become an important tool that allows Cook County to be more creative in finding economic technical solutions.

Rupert Graham, Jr., P.E., superintendent of the Cook County Highway Department, (left) with Todd H. Stroger, president of the Cook County Board of Commissioners (right)Rupert Graham, Jr., P.E., superintendent of the Cook County Highway Department, (left) with Todd H. Stroger, president of the Cook County Board of Commissioners (right)

Scott Eilken, president, Quality Saw and Seal, a Bridgeview, Ill.-based contractor, has had the opportunity to work with the Cook County Highway Department. He noted that all of the current methods of grooving, grinding and concrete pavement preservation that the department is utilizing on various projects is a direct result of their efforts to better their existing methods.

“Ultimately, the driving public and taxpayers are the winners,” Eilken said in a press release. “The Cook County Highway Department has been open and receptive to trying new ideas and methods in order to repair our existing concrete roadways, which in turn has changed their long-standing traditional repair methods.”

Graham became the Superintendent of Highways for the Cook County Highway Department in 2007. A native of Chicago, he earned a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in civil/structural Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Most of his career was in the private sector working for civil engineering consulting firms, including a period when he was a principal of Jackson, Tull & Graham, Inc., in Chicago.