Interim Executive Director Lanyea Griffin Details Unique Features of Tollway Projects to Engineering Group
It’s been said that engineering is the art and science of nuts and bolts.
So, it was with great interest that a group from the American Society of Civil Engineers, Illinois Section, welcomed Illinois Tollway Interim Executive Director Lanyea Griffin to dig into some of the unique engineering aspects of ongoing Tollway projects.
More than 120 transportation engineers flocked to the luncheon hosted by the ASCE Illinois Transportation and Development Institute, a specialty technical group that promotes professional excellence in all aspects of transportation engineering, urban planning and development. It was the biggest turnout seen by the group since it resumed hosting luncheons post-pandemic in February of this year.
Griffin detailed for the engineering crowd many of the finer points and technical details of Tollway projects, including the Central Tri-State Tollway (I-294) and I-490 projects, as well as Phase Two of the I-294/I-57 Interchange Project.
One of the most interesting and challenging projects for engineers is the complex work involved in reconstructing the I-294 bridge over 87th Street/Roberts Road in coordination with Cook County, Hickory Hills, Justice and Bridgeview. It’s the work going on underneath the bridge that will make an even greater positive impact on surrounding communities.
When originally constructed, the northbound and southbound sides of I-294 were significantly different, with one bridge on the northbound side and two bridges on the southbound side. A later widening of I-294 resulted in the need for a deep beam spanning both underlying roads, which crisscross underneath.
After extensive review, the Tollway decided to transform what existed into something that would provide much more benefit – building two massive structures to cross over both 87th Street and Roberts Road. The new bridges will span both roadways and the intersection, eliminating the need for a fracture-critical support. The new bridge is more conventional with no skew that also provides for significant improvements under the bridge and improved constructability. The new bridge allows for construction of a right turn lane from 87th Street to Roberts Road, as well as wider sidewalks, open space, customized aesthetics including transparent acrylic noisewalls on the bridge and less maintenance.
Griffin also highlighted innovations such as the gantry system employed to reconstruct the Mile Long Bridge in the area adjacent to and over the Chicago Sanitary & Ship Canal and the self-propelled modular transporter technology used to install the shoofly bridge in order to keep passenger and freight trains running during reconstruction of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway Bridge Project.
In addition, Griffin spotlighted the unique challenge of building the new I-490 Tollway along the west side of O’Hare International Airport, which requires the Tollway to consider and accommodate operations related to the airport. The Tollway is constructing an underpass to allow personnel from the Federal Aviation Administration to pass under the toll road to access their facilities, as well as working in coordination with the FAA and the Chicago Department of Aviation to perform the complex work of relocating nearby runway lighting systems from the ground to bridges.