Village, County and Tollway Come Together to Deliver New Lake County Bridge Ahead of Schedule

While construction is not without inconvenience, the Illinois Tollway takes on every project committed to reducing that impact on its customers and communities, along with the goal of delivering new and improved roads and bridges on scheduled and within budget. 

So, when reopening of the Stearns School Road Bridge carrying traffic over the Tri-State Tollway (I-94) in Gurnee took place just ahead of Labor Day weekend, well ahead of schedule, there was good reason for everyone to call it a job well done.

“We were excited that the project was completed two months ahead of schedule, and now we are looking forward to seeing the improvement benefit our residents and motorists for decades to come,” said Kevin Carrier, Director of Planning and Programming at the Lake County Division of Transportation.

The Tollway, Village of Gurnee and Lake County Division of Transportation coordinated on the project to replace the 70-year-old Stearns School Road Bridge. The new bridge structure has been designed to provide for three lanes of tra¿c, wider shoulders, as well as additional bicycle and pedestrian access.  Currently, up to 15,900 vehicles use the Stearns School Road Bridge daily.

"Joint meetings held early on in the planning process with Gurnee, Lake County and the Tollway helped to make this project a collective success,” said Heather L. Galan, Public Works Director/Village Engineer in Gurnee. “We all agreed that a full shut down of the bridge over a shorter duration was the best course of action. This decision proved to be beneficial to everyone, especially since the contractor completed the project even earlier than expected.” 

The project team was able to start construction about two weeks earlier than originally intended due to close coordination with local partners and IDOT. In addition, there was a strong push to complete the project prior to any holiday shopping season, so the project’s local partners allowed the detour to start earlier than planned once construction neared.

Led by general contractor Dunnet Bay Construction Co., the project include the work of other companies including Hard Rock Concrete Cutters to remove the existing bridge, Metropolitan Steel Inc. to fabricate the new bridge beams, MA Rebar Services Inc. to provide the rebar, Peter Baker & Sons Co. Inc. to perform asphalt pavement work, Logistics Corp to provide trucking services, as well as Hecker and Company Inc. for electrical, lighting, and ITS work and Northern Contracting Inc for guardrail and right-of-way fence installation.

Because the Illinois Tollway typically constructs new bridges with a 75-year service life, the new bridge was built to accommodate future local roadway improvements anticipated by the village and the county, so the $12 million project includes $5.4 million in local cost participation from Village of Gurnee and Lake County for the extra improvements.

“Stearns School Road is a vital part of the Lake County transportation system,” Carrier said. “This project is a great example of how agencies can work together to ensure everything runs smoothly from start to finish and deliver a project that fits the needs of the community.” 

Galan added that the Village was able to use REBUILD IL funds for its portion of the project at a time when COVID-19 saw many other local capital projects stall. “We are very pleased with this intergovernmental success,” she said.

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