Addams Tollway reconstruction will cost more to finish on time

No one who's endured the reconstruction on the Jane Addams Tollway (I-90) wants it to go on any longer than necessary.

But getting the job done on time isn't cheap.

Tollway directors Wednesday gave preliminary approval to $16 million in change orders and extra work orders to finish widening I-90 in 2016 as promised.

The additional costs arise from delays caused by a variety of issues related to utilities, permits and bad weather, Chief Engineer Paul Kovacs said.

The tollway is widening each direction of I-90 between Rockford and Chicago by one lane. The western half is complete, and the eastern segment between Elgin and the Tri-State Tollway is supposed to wrap up in 2016.

Environmental permits for the $2.5 billion project took 18 months instead of 12 months, and that slowed work on waterways, which affected other phases of the project, Kovacs explained.

The eastern segment between Elgin and the Tri-State Tollway lies beside water and gas lines that require extensive coordination.

Kovacs said the utilities want restricted construction in their peak seasons, which is summer for the Northwest Suburban Municipal Joint Action Water Agency and fall and winter for Nicor.

"We've been jumping through hoops to try and accommodate them," he said.

The agency could decide to continue construction past 2016, but that doesn't usually translate into cost savings as materials and labor can increase in coming years, Kovacs said.

Expenses contained in the change orders include additional equipment and materials, as well as extra work hours.

"We like to get things done fast. We don't want to inconvenience the motoring public, so we're doing all we can to get the corridor done," Kovacs said.

The tollway has planned for contingencies and the project will come within budget, he added when questioned about the cost.

"We submitted our permits way ahead of time; we did our coordination with the utilities way ahead of time. We will open to traffic by 2016 with four lanes in each direction," Kovacs said.

The final vote on the change orders goes to the full tollway board next week.

Major work ahead for the Jane Addams

Look out for more ramp switches, closures on I-90

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