Rejected tollway engineers may come back -- for six months

  • The Illinois tollway's Finance and Administration committee renewed a contract with consulting engineers AECOM, which as served the agency for five decades, after previously rejecting a deal in October.

    The Illinois tollway's Finance and Administration committee renewed a contract with consulting engineers AECOM, which as served the agency for five decades, after previously rejecting a deal in October. Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 12/7/2016 6:36 PM

After previously dumping longtime consulting engineer AECOM Technical Services, Illinois tollway directors renewed a $8.5 million contract with the firm -- for six months.

The action by Finance and Administration Committee members Wednesday needs final board approval.

 

In October, the board rejected a three-year, $43 million contract with Los Angeles-based AECOM, which has served the tollway for five decades. Officials gave no reason for the surprise move that ignored the recommendation of top staff. Now the agency will start from scratch to find a consulting engineer.

The tollway "intends to prepare a new procurement seeking a consulting engineer as quickly as possible," spokesman Dan Rozek said.

The tollway is required to have a consulting engineer under its trust indenture in order to borrow money.

The agency is in the midst of a $12 billion, 15-year road construction program.

AECOM fought back against its dismissal in appeals to the state's procurement officer and Illinois Department of Transportation secretary.

The tollway's actions were "improper" and flouted a law requiring government agencies to hire professional firms such as engineers and architects through a qualifications-based process, AECOM said. Tollway leaders countered that they had followed the law. Neither appeal was granted.

To select professional firms, applicants are screened and finalists are given scores by staff members. Then, a committee with engineering, procurement and diversity staff members and a retired University of Illinois engineer make recommendations to the board. Typically, such recommendations are approved. The consulting engineering is an outside firm that conducts inspections, evaluates road conditions and issues an annual report.

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