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updated: 1/24/2013 6:29 PM

New contractor hired to eyeball tollway construction after false start

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  • Gilbane Building Co. will check out old tollway projects to make sure the agency was getting its money's worth.

      Gilbane Building Co. will check out old tollway projects to make sure the agency was getting its money's worth.
    Daily Herald File Photo

 
 

Tollway leaders agreed to hire engineering experts Thursday to scrutinize previous construction projects for problems, saying they were confident the firm could be objective after questions surfaced about a previous contractor.

Gilbane Building Co. was awarded a $1 million contract to evaluate past and present road work for the agency, which is embarking on a $12 billion construction program.

The move follows a decision in September to reverse preliminary approval of a similar agreement with Hill International, a New Jersey-based firm.

The tollway's finance committee endorsed hiring Hill, however, a Daily Herald report showed the agency had picked Hill for a similar mission in 2005, paying it $1.5 million to monitor engineers and contractors working on the $5.8 billion Congestion Relief program to assess how effectively it was being implemented.

With questions surfacing about Hill's objectivity, the authority went back to the drawing board.

Gilbane has not done work for the tollway since at least 2004, officials said, and will be independent.

"They've attested and certified to that and we've done as much checking as we can," Executive Director Kristi Lafleur said.

By looking back and correcting past mistakes, the tollway could save money and time, administrators think.

"We see this as an opportunity to take a look and be sure we're getting what we're paying for and have the right processes. This will be another set of eyes," Lafleur said.

Gilbane would "evaluate our construction specs, procedures and apply some knowledge of the industry to what we're doing here and give us some assurances we're doing things in accordance with best practices," Chief Engineer Paul Kovacs said. "They'll do actual testing of our construction products."

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