Column

How the Illinois Tollway is building roads smarter, faster

Tollway also working to provide safer roads, put more people to work

Our region’s transportation network serves as the most significant driver of economic growth and job creation in our state. It links our industries to marketplaces around the world and earns Chicago-area businesses a competitive advantage in today’s global economy.

At the Illinois Tollway, we are accelerating projects that will improve Illinois’ competitiveness in the global market and create jobs and economic opportunities. That’s why the Illinois Tollway is positioning itself to revolutionize how we build road projects in Illinois; we are building roads smarter, safer and faster.

By picking up the pace in 2018 to advance work scheduled in our Move Illinois capital program, we are taking full advantage of the current competitive construction bidding environment.

With more than $554 million in construction advertised already this year, we have begun to realize major economic benefits and cost savings. This market-driven decision already has delivered the Tollway $48 million in savings, while also creating and sustaining up to 6,500 jobs and delivering our projects ahead of schedule.

Accelerating timeliness to reprioritize key projects already is paying off; not only have we saved $48 million so far, but we are building better, smarter roads that last longer.

For example, on resurfacing contracts for the Reagan Memorial Tollway (Interstate-88) and the Veterans Memorial Tollway (I-355), we reduced the initial estimated cost by more than 10 percent, while providing a thicker and more robust pavement using more recycled and Illinois sourced materials in the pavement.

It also will result in less wear and tear on vehicles, less maintenance on the roads and fewer delays for our customers. This is one example of innovation that works and a practice we will consider applying to other large-scale projects.

More major projects are being advanced this year including the Central Tri-State Tollway reconstruction and repair projects that ensure the Tollway system remains in good condition.

As we look ahead to the second half of 2018 and beyond, we will be at the leading edge nationally with our safety initiatives to improve roadside design. Every Tollway project is being reviewed for opportunities to improve, and our goal is to move every project forward as expeditiously as possible – all being done without a toll increase.

We can all agree the demands on Illinois’ roadways are mounting, and the cost of inaction rises every day we wait for reliable and safe infrastructure. These accelerated Tollway projects are an important step to creating new jobs, improving safety and strengthening the future of the Chicago area.

• Kevin Artl is CEO of the Illinois Tollway. The Illinois Tollway is dedicated to providing and promoting a safe and efficient system of highways while ensuring the highest possible level of service to our customers. For information, visit www.illinoistollway.com/about.

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