Extra costs add up in tollway construction projects

Illinois tollway directors approved about $10.7 million in extra costs for road work on the Jane Addams Tollway (I-90) and Elgin-O'Hare Expressway extension Wednesday.

The lion's share of the payouts fell to two engineering firms supervising work on separate segments of the I-90 widening project. Earlier contracts with consultants Omega & Associates and AMEC Environment & Infrastructure/Jacobs Engineering Group/R.M. Chin & Associates were increased by $4 million and $3.8 million, respectively.

Delays in obtaining permits, negotiations with utilities and land acquisition and an expedited schedule caused the additional costs, Chief Engineer Paul Kovacs said at a Finance, Administration and Operations Committee meeting.

Change orders to construction contracts on the Jane Addams included $426,000 for extra flagging as part of a bridge rebuild over the Canadian National Railway tracks near Mannheim Road.

The tollway also will pay $264,485 extra for excavating and removing trees for the Elgin-O'Hare Expressway extension project near Bensenville. The agency needed to complete the work soon because northern long-eared bats, a threatened species, roost in the trees from spring through fall. The bats migrate from November through March, which is when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service permits tree removal.

The extra payments require final approval from the tollway board next week.

Kovacs' son is a civil engineer who began work at Omega & Associates in 2015. Paul Kovacs said he had informed the agency's ethics officer and executives of the connection and does not take part in decisions related to the firm.

Not to ruin 2016 already, but here's a rundown of upcoming road work

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