Tollway: Bridge disaster won't hinder I-90 completion this year

  • Touhy Avenue open and traffic moving again Wednesday after a worker was killed while removing a beam from the I-90 bridge.

    Touhy Avenue open and traffic moving again Wednesday after a worker was killed while removing a beam from the I-90 bridge. Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 4/7/2016 12:48 PM

Construction delays to one segment of the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90) following a fatal beam collapse in Des Plaines should not get in the way of finishing the massive rebuilding and widening of the tollway this year, a tollway spokesman said.

Vicente Santoyo, a 47-year-old father of four, died and three fellow workers were injured in the accident early Tuesday at an I-90 bridge over Touhy Avenue. The men were in lifts preparing to remove two horizontal bridge beams when one beam rolled off the concrete pier supporting it and struck Santoyo, who lived in Berwyn.

 

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration is reviewing what happened and has opened an investigation into Omega Demolition Corp. of Elgin, which was the subcontractor for the bridge job and employed Santoyo, and Judlau Contracting Inc. of New York, the prime contractor.

Preliminary reports indicate crews were cutting steel cross bracing, which stabilizes bridge beams, when one of the 40-ton beams toppled. When beams are being removed, crews typically will hook them up to a crane with steel cables or other restraints to steady them. Possible explanations could be that a cable failed or there were problems with the connection to the crane, experts said.

The tollway has asked its general consultant AECOM to assess what caused the accident and has suspended work on the bridge over Touhy until the review is complete and a plan to resume construction safely is in place.

In spite of that, "we expect to finish reconstructing and widening I-90 this year," tollway spokesman Dan Rozek said Wednesday.

Traffic was back to normal Wednesday on Touhy, which was shut for much of Tuesday between Wolf Road and Lee Street.

The agency embarked on the I-90 program in 2013 and completed the first stretch from Rockford to Elgin in 2014. Work ramped up on the second half between Elgin and the Tri-State Tollway in 2015. Lane shifts and construction delays have caused traffic backups and frustration for drivers. Officials have pledged to do all they can to finish the corridor in time.

The project was estimated to cost $2.2 billion in 2013 and now is closer to $2.5 billion.

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