Thursday, June 21, 2012

Illinois Tollway To Award No Bid $70 Million Program Management Contract

On June 28 the Illinois Toll Highway Authority board is expected to award a $70 million no bid program management contract for its $12.1 billion, 15 year congestion relief construction plan, dubbed “Move Illinois,” to Kanas City based HNTB, an employee owned engineering and project management business, based on approval of the Missouri firm last night by the Tollway’s Finance Administration Operations Committee. The committee preferred HNTB over New York City based Parsons Brinkerhoff. No one has explained why Chicago based construction management firm Jones Lang LaSalle, also on the ENR “Top 100” list of capable and successful construction managers, was not under consideration.

Despite the size of the budget for the outside and out of state program manager, the Tollway also has budgeted an additional $17 million for salaries of 35 engineers and other permanent staffers to manage Move Illinois over the next five years. Construction projects to be paid for with Move Illinois funds, raised by increasing Tollway tolls a hefty 87.5%, include rebuilding and widening I-90, the state’s first modern toll highway, a new West Bypass between Elgin and O’Hare Field, and a new interchange connecting I-294 with I-57 south of Chicago.

It remains a mystery why no Illinois based heavy civil contracting firms or program management firms were under consideration for this huge no bid deal, especially at a time when local engineers, project managers and skilled tradespeople are still looking for work in the downtrodden construction sector of the state’s economy. Apparently keeping $70 million in tolls paid mostly by Illinois citizens in our own state’s construction economy is a very low priority for the Toll Highway Authority.

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