Tollway director: Projects should finish on schedule

July 21, 2010 2:36:38 PM PDT
A no-strike clause kept construction going on Illinois tollways during the recent laborers' strike. However, the repairs were slowed down as workers would not cross picket lines to bring materials and equipment."We've really been watching this very closely, and at this point, our chief engineer believes, and I believe, we should be able to finish the projects on schedule this year," said Kristi Lafleur, Illinois Tollway executive director.

At highest risk is the Edens Spur resurfacing project, which had just gotten under way when the strike began. Already on a tight schedule with a completion date of mid-December, bad weather could be a factor in carrying this work into spring of 2011.

Toll officials say the resurfacing an bridge work on 18 miles of I-355 has a better chance of making up time. That completion date may push from October to November.

Barely three months on the job, the Tollway's new executive director already has an aggressive agenda, addressing everything from congestion relief to restoring public confidence in the agency.

"Transparency is going to be very important. We're trying to put more information online, more information out there in public," said Lafleur.

Lafleur is also looking for innovative ways to decrease congestion, either through adding transit to the tollways or by creating congestion pricing, which means adding a lane with a higher toll and a lower travel time.

"I think the place with the most opportunity for it is on the Jane Addams, at least that's what the study indicated," the executive director said.

Incidentally, I-90, also known as the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway, is the next one scheduled for a major reconstruction possibly by 2012.


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