To mark Earth Day Illinois Tollway highlights new maintenance sites designed to help protect local water quality
When the Illinois Tollway began building a new state-of-the-art maintenance facility in Hoffman Estates, it also built a new path for a small stream crossing the property as part of a sophisticated drainage system that will help protect local water quality.
Engineers realigned a small existing stream to add more turns and bends to slow the speed of water moving through it, which helps prevent pollutants or excess nutrients in stormwater from flowing off the site.
As it commemorates Earth Day on April 22, the Illinois Tollway is dedicated to helping protect the land and water along its 294-mile system by minimizing the environmental impact of its maintenance sites and other buildings.
“On Earth Day, we are emphasizing our commitment to working with local communities and organizations to maintain a healthy environment along our roads,” said Illinois Tollway Chief of Planning Rocco Zucchero. “We recognize we can play a vital role by designing our facilities to ensure they have the least possible impact on the sites where they are located. We’re proud of the work we’re doing to replace our aging maintenance garages with modern facilities that use less energy and are designed to protect nearby waterways.”
The Illinois Tollway has been recognized for replacing its aging maintenance facilities with new, energy-efficient garages that include rooftop solar power arrays, radiant heating systems, energy-saving LED lighting and other environmentally-friendly features. The new garages meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for sustainable design and construction—a first for any Illinois transportation agency.
As part of its emphasis on constructing more environmentally sensitive facilities, the Tollway is focusing on maintaining local water quality by taking extra steps to contain pollutants and excess nutrients that otherwise could contaminate nearby waterways.
At the Hoffman Estates M-5 maintenance site being built along the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90), the work included adding a new detention pond to hold stormwater and then nearly doubling the length of a stream that serves as an outlet for the pond.
All stormwater running off the maintenance site flows into the basin, where a series of berms slows the movement of the water, allowing salt and pollutants from the pavement to drop to the bottom, The water then flows into the redesigned stream, which was lengthened by adding more curves. The meandering path of the creek reduces the speed of the water, allowing remaining pollutants to settle to the bottom instead of being carried off site.
The Tollway earlier won a state-wide award for innovation in sustainable engineering for its new Aurora M-8 maintenance site on the Reagan Memorial Tollway (I-88), which includes a similarly designed, elongated detention basin that slows stormwater and makes it travel farther so more pollutants and excess nutrients such as phosphorus settle out of the water before it leaves the site.
Native prairie plants such as prairie dropseed and marsh milkweed, as well as wetland plants such as sedges, blue-flag iris, soft-stem bulrush and common burr reed, were planted across the bottom and around the perimeter of the basin to soak up and remove pollutants.
Those design features are intended help keep any pollutants in the runoff from flowing into the nearby Fox River.
The innovative features included in the new maintenance sites are part of the Tollway’s commitment to incorporating sustainable features that help the agency operate more efficiently while also protecting the environment.