Tollway faces temporary restraining order on major interchange construction

Amid a legal fight over the Illinois tollway terminating a construction contract, a DuPage County judge has issued a temporary restraining order preventing the agency from hiring another firm.

Judlau Contracting Inc. contends the tollway in May wrongfully broke off a $323 million contract to rebuild the southbound lanes of the I-290 and I-88 interchange near Oak Brook.

The company sued the tollway and sought to forestall the contract from being awarded to Walsh Construction.

“At this time we have no comment due to pending litigation,“ a tollway spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Judge Anne Hayes on Thursday granted a temporary restraining order, finding “Judlau has established an ascertainable right in need of protection; that is, the right to participate in a fair and open competitive bidding process,” according to court documents.

Tollway officials said in an affidavit they did not initially realize they had to apply a 4% preference, or reduction, to Illinois companies bidding for the job. Judlau is based in New York.

The 4% preference is a relatively new change to the state procurement code that went into effect in December 2023.

The tollway board awarded the contract to Judlau, which was the low bidder over Walsh, in November.

But in April, “I reviewed the bids submitted … and discovered that the tollway had not allocated a 4% bid preference to the base bid submitted by Walsh, which was and is an Illinois business,” Chief of Procurement Peter Foernssler said, according to court documents.

The tollway misunderstood the mandatory nature of the change in procurement policy, he added.

“We appreciate the court’s recent ruling in favor of transparency and integrity,” Judlau Executive Vice President Arnav Amin said in a statement. “Regrettably, we were forced to take this action to protect ourselves, our subcontractors, and motorists.”

Judlau contends that the tollway’s action “negatively impacts nearly 160 subcontractors and vendors and will substantially delay the project at the expense of 300,000 motorists daily while the work already in progress remains halted.”

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