What's up with state-funded capital projects in the suburbs? Inflation, supply issues create delays

Inflation, supply issues create delays

More than 500 state-funded capital improvement projects valued at nearly $3.3 billion are in various stages of construction as most deal with inflation and supply chain issues that have sometimes caused delays, increased costs or plan modifications.

The number includes 51 projects at 18 suburban sites in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake and McHenry counties that have been awarded more than $515 million combined.

The construction projects are part of Gov. J.B. Pritzker's six-year, $45 billion Rebuild Illinois capital improvement undertaking that began in 2019 and is overseen by the state's Capital Development Board.

Officials at the oversight agency said they have become more "adept at responding to the rising cost of materials and supply chain shortages through careful project management and planning" and strive to meet construction timelines despite those challenges.

"The Capital Development Board faces many of the same challenges other business sectors are encountering," said Illinois Capital Development Board Executive Director Jim Underwood. "The solution requires flexibility, which ensures we can deliver projects on time and at the best value for the state of Illinois."

Some suburban projects haven't moved past the design phase despite being approved for funding as far back as 2019.

At Harper College, bids to repair a utility tunnel on campus came in over budget, so the project is being rebid, delaying the completion of work.

The project is among three that Harper received state funding to complete. The largest is the $101.6 million Canning Center, a one-stop student center that will feature a number of amenities. Harper officials said construction on the center is expected to begin in 2024, with occupancy set for 2026, but it hasn't been immune from the same issues other construction work has faced.

"Inflation has increased cost estimates of Harper's capital projects," said Rob Galick, Harper's executive vice president of finance and administrative services. "Wherever possible, we adjust the scope of a capital project to reduce the estimated project costs, thus absorbing the impact of inflation. This can involve removing or relocating some functions originally slated for the project."

Supply problems and increased costs create a delicate balancing act when reconfiguring the scale of these projects, many agreed.

"We always keep our focus on supporting our students and maintaining the overall vision of a project," Galick said.

So far, Harper has spent $1.4 million of the nearly $104 million allocated for the three projects. In fact, among the 51 suburban projects, less than $95 million of the $515 million awarded has been spent so far, according to invoices kept at the Capital Development Board's website.

Some projects, like two planned at Chain O' Lakes Conservation Area and State Park in Spring Grove valued at more than $3 million to improve campgrounds and boat access, have yet had a dime spent on them.

Others, though, are well on their way.

Phase 1 of two projects at College of Lake County's Grayslake campus are complete, with $30.7 million spent already on the new $83.2 million adult education center, and $28.6 million spent on the $47.3 million science hall addition and renovation.

Nearly half the $23 million earmarked for six different construction projects at the Illinois Youth Center in St. Charles has also already been spent, according to Capital Development Board records.

In his budget address last week, Pritzker focused on state spending to enhance early childhood education. Very little was mentioned about new capital projects, but he noted he had included an additional $100 million in capital improvement funds for early childhood education providers to "build new and expand existing facilities," doubling the amount already earmarked to those providers in the Rebuild Illinois plan.

"Too many families can't access early childhood programs at all because they live in an early childhood desert where no providers or available spots exist within a reasonable radius of their home or work," he said. "This program will be the beginning of the end of early childhood deserts in Illinois, and working families will have more and better options for their children."

Pritzker earmarked another $20 million next year for the state's "Downtowns and Main Streets" capital improvement grant program because the initial offering had been so "successful." Aurora and Prairie Food Co-op of Lombard were recipients of the first round of that grant program, records show.

Many state-funded construction projects have been hampered in recent years by cost increases caused by inflation and supply shortages, creating delays and requiring modified designs. Daily Herald File Photo/2004

Suburban projects funded by the stateWhere more than 50 state-funded capital improvement projects are underway throughout the suburbs and the spending on them.

Location Projects Awarded Spent

2nd Dist. Appellate Court 1 $679,391 $496,071

Chain O' Lakes 2 $3,844,600 $0

College of Lake County 4 $134,327,428 $60,316,902

College of DuPage 4 $6,729,410 $193,297

Elgin Community College 2 $5,111,500 $1,733,842

Elgin Mental Health Center 8 $57,110,172 $4,001,518

Harper College 3 $103,889,202 $1,434,387

IDOT 1 $2,800,000 $59,340

Illinois Beach State Park 5 $82,795,560 $6,392,488

Illinois Math & Science Acad. 2 $10,579,724 $4,914,476

Illinois Youth Center-St. Charles 6 $23,110,690 $10,508,481

Illinois Youth Center-Warrenville 3 $26,393,800 $612,050

Kiley Developmental Center 1 $3,611,600 $1,419,737

McHenry County College 3 $28,430,209 $1,430,651

Moraine Hills State Park 2 $1,043,100 $60,619

Oakton College 1 $900,000 $0

Philip J. Rock Center & School 1 $19,757,143 $717,724

Waubonsee Community College 2 $4,201,812 $186,948

Source: Illinois Capital Development Board

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