Area high school students get close-up look at Illinois Tollway construction sites
What’s the best way for high school students to find out if a career in the transportation industry is for them? Put on hard hats and safety vests to get a close-up look at construction projects underway on the Illinois Tollway.
“Giving students access to real-world construction projects taking place right in their back yards is the best way to inspire their ambitions and allow them to see opportunities for potential careers,” said Illinois Tollway Executive Director Cassaundra Rouse. “It’s encouraging to see our engineers and planners engaging with the next generation of transportation professionals and introducing them to entrepreneurial and career opportunities in the transportation industry.”
The Illinois Tollway invited high school students for a boots-on-the-ground tour of major project sites: the I-490 Tollway Project, and the 87th and Roberts Road Bridge Project and I-290/I-88 Interchange Project at I-294 that are currently part of the $4 billion Central Tri-State Tollway (I-294) Project.
The students currently enrolled in engineering-related coursework from Elk Grove High School, Homewood Flossmoor Community High School and King College Prep High School in Chicago met with Tollway engineering professionals who gave students an overview of the projects, showing them project plans, maps, photos, renderings and videos, and discussing the various roles people play in building or reconstructing roads and bridges.
Students had the chance to ask questions and go see where the work was taking place at two of the biggest, most complex Tollway projects in the agency’s history.
At the 87th Street and Roberts Road project site, students toured the new bridges that span both roadways and the entire intersection and observed ongoing construction activities including local road improvements, pavement removal and installation of protective shielding on the bridge.
At the I-290/I-88 Interchange, students viewed new ramp construction from southbound I-294 to eastbound I-290 and the new Electric Avenue Bridge over I-290. Highlights included work on the I-290 bridge, construction of retaining walls and various stages of pavement reconstruction.
Students also viewed work to build the new I-490 Tollway. Together with the Illinois Route 390 Tollway, the I-490 Tollway will connect businesses and communities with one of the nation’s busiest airports, transit facilities, major freight transportation hubs, distribution centers and multiple interstate highways including the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90) and I-294.
As part of I-490 Tollway, the Tollway is building a new, full-access interchange to connect with the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90). Highlights of the student site visit included seeing construction of new ramps that connect I-490 to I-90, including the new multi-span bridge that will carry I-490 traffic over the Touhy Avenue Reservoir.