National Outstanding Project and Leader Award Winner

The Illinois Tollway builds and operates great roads because it has great engineers—and the awards they’ve won prove it.

Chief Engineering Officer Paul Kovacs is the latest Tollway engineer to be honored, receiving the 2019 national Outstanding Projects and Leaders (OPAL) Award in the government category presented by the American Society of Civil Engineers

Kovacs, the longest serving chief engineering officer in Tollway history, is being recognized for his career accomplishments, which include managing the agency’s 15-year, $14 billion Move Illinois capital program, which is expanding, rebuilding and reshaping the Tollway system. 

Launched in 2012, the first seven years of Move Illinois are on schedule and within budget, delivering the new Illinois Route 390 Tollway, a widened and rebuilt Jane Addams Memorial Tollway with a new SmartRoad corridor, as well as opening a new interchange connecting the Tri-State Tollway (I-294) to I-57.

The award honors Kovacs for his success in integrating innovation and new technology into roadway projects and for anticipating the future needs of Tollway drivers as well as for creating more opportunities for small, diverse and veteran-owned firms to participate on Tollway projects.

He joined the Tollway in 1999 as a senior project engineer managing Tollway bridge, roadway and interchange projects and later oversaw the systemwide work to remove conventional toll booths and install next-generation open road tolling plazas. He became chief engineering officer in 2007, managing all design and construction operations on the Tollway’s 294-mile system that serves more than 1.6 million daily users.

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