CHICAGO – To recognize the most outstanding engineering achievements and celebrate the exceptional work engineers provided to their clients in the past year, the American Council of Engineering Companies of Illinois (ACEC Illinois) today launched its 2023 Engineering Excellence Awards competition titled “Engineering Works.” The award is designed to honor the best infrastructure projects in Illinois and the engineering companies behind their design and construction. The competitive process to select a winner is now open to the public to learn about the projects and vote to pick a winner to be honored at the ACEC Illinois Awards gala in February.
Following the recent historic investment in infrastructure by the state through the “Rebuild Illinois” capital plan which provided over $33.2 billion in funding for various types of transportation infrastructure and an additional $17.8 billion in federal investments made available for the state’s infrastructure program through the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), ACEC Illinois decided to organize the competition to showcase completed projects in the state, encourage public engagement and appreciation and promote excellence among Illinois’ engineering industry, recognizing the companies who bring infrastructure projects to life for the benefit of society.
“Infrastructural development has always been vital for job creation and transportation of goods and people and crucial to improving the quality of life of residents and boosting our state’s economy,” said Kevin Artl, President and CEO of the American Council of Engineering Companies of Illinois. “Our intention is to use this contest to promote a competitive spirit among our members so they continue to put in their best as they work with our public and private partners on transformative projects such as roads, bridges, railroads, universities and other critical infrastructure across the state.”
Eleven projects spread across the state have been nominated for the award and the public will have the opportunity to vote for their favorites after considering their aesthetics, design, construction excellence and the social and economic impact on their day-to-day lives. The nominated projects are in the categories of transportation, structural systems, water resources, industrial and manufacturing processes and facilities, studies and research consulting and special projects.
“The scope and variety of projects nominated for this award demonstrates the extraordinary commitment by state agencies and local engineers to the development and modernization of our state’s most important road and transportation infrastructure,” said Omer Osman, Secretary of the Illinois Department of Transportation. “We commend ACEC Illinois for this initiative to promote excellence in the engineering community and look forward to seeing the projects and teams that will emerge as winners to be celebrated at the awards gala.”
“Illinois engineers contribute immensely to our efforts to ensure road safety and efficiency because they help maintain and upgrade over 294 miles of roadways we operate in 12 counties across Northern Illinois,” said Cassaundra Rouse, Executive Director, Illinois Tollway. “We are excited that the selection process for this award allows the public to pick the best infrastructure projects and give recognition to the contribution of the engineering and construction teams.”
“ACEC Illinois engineers are committed to putting their skills to work designing and rebuilding a better Illinois,” said P.J. Fitzpatrick, chair of the Board of Directors of ACEC Illinois. “We hope this competition will help showcase the work they do every day to build and improve our state’s infrastructure network.
Voting begins on January 26 and ends on February 16 when a winner will be selected after counting of votes cast by the public. To see photographs and vote for any of the projects, please go the dedicated voting website: https://www.acecileea.com/vote.php/.
The nominated honor projects, project firms and project owners are:
Gantry Erection of the Mile Long Bridge on I-294 – Collins Engineers, Inc. for Illinois Tollway
The Mile Long bridge is a critical piece of infrastructure on the Central Tri-State Tollway (I-294) corridor that carries drivers over two major railroads, three water resources and local roads, as well as over a major distribution center and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway. The $500 million, Mile Long Bridge Project is part of the $4 billion Central Tri-State Tollway (I-294) Project, scheduled for 2018 through 2025. The gantry erection was completed for the Illinois Tollway by Collins Engineering Inc.
Wells/Wentworth Connector – Section 3 improvements – WSP USA for the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT)
WSP USA provided planning, design, and construction management services for Section 3 of the Wells/Wentworth Connector for the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT). The multi-phase project creates a new road between Chicago’s Loop and Chinatown. In addition to safety and community connectivity, the project unlocked the potential development of the 78, a new mixed-use development along the Chicago River that had been long vacant due to a lack of accessibility caused by rail infrastructure and a lack of surface transportation to the site.
Wheaton Downtown Streetscape – Primera Engineers for the City of Wheaton
Primera Engineers was the primary engineering designer and project construction manager for the Wheaton Downtown Streetscape project, a multi-year design and construction effort to upgrade the outdated streetscape of Wheaton’s downtown area to a more welcoming and modern look that the City’s residents can enjoy for years to come. Primera led the design of each phase and coordinated project milestones and deliverables with the subconsultants. Primera assisted the City with advertising and awarding contractors during the bidding process and managed construction progress with the awarded contractor.
I-294/I-57 Interchange, Phase 2 – T.Y. Lin International Great Lakes Inc. and Wight & Company for Illinois Tollway
Handled by T.Y. Lin International Great Lakes Inc. and Wight & Company for Illinois Tollway, this vital interchange will help adjacent communities as well as the region to attract new development and support existing businesses to move the goods and services they produce and purchase. The potential of enhanced interstate links is already being realized with the construction of a truck travel center in Posen, as well as many other new warehouses and logistics centers. More development is planned with projects valued at more than $215 million expected this year and next year in Harvey and Country Club Hills.
I-74 Corridor Over the Mississippi River – Alfred Benesch & Company for Illinois DOT and Iowa DOT
Spanning the Mississippi River, this one-billion-dollar complex, mega-project owned by both the Iowa and Illinois DOTs was borne out of the need for increased capacity and structural improvements along a 7.8-mile stretch of I-74 in the Quad Cities (IL/IA). With the existing infrastructure no longer meeting the current needs and functionally obsolete, an I-74 Iowa-Illinois Corridor Study was undertaken by the IaDOT and IDOT with input from other local agencies and local officials. The signature elements of the project consist of two, basket-handle, through-arch structures that carry four lanes of traffic and full shoulders in each direction, more than doubling traffic capacity. A multi-use path was also incorporated into the project to promote multi-modal transportation and recreation.
Jane Bryne Interchange – AECOM and TranSystems for IDOT
Utilizing a combination of practical design, state-of-the-art engineering practices, and streamlined construction methods, the Jane Bryne Interchange (JBI) is a testament to engineering and transportation innovation. Reconstruction of the JBI was initiated to reduce highway congestion that plagues Chicago, a transportation hub with large amounts of freight traffic. The JBI reconstruction is a major step in alleviating congestion, and eliminating idling vehicles improves air quality, generates reliable commutes, provides economic advantages, and creates a much safer facility for all users. By 2040, the JBI project will result in a 50% reduction in delay for all vehicles, savings of $185M annually in lost production from delayed travelers, reduction in idle time resulting in savings of nearly 1.6 million gallons of gasoline annually and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by one-third.
Lakefront Trail Widening at DLSD Bascule Bridge: WSP USA for Chicago DOT’s Division of Engineering
Handled by WSP USA, the Lakefront Trail completion over the Chicago River was designed with many beneficiaries in mind. From a sustainability perspective the designs utilize an existing structure and the repairs and retrofits extend the historical structure’s life. The safer trail will encourage non-motorized travel for residents and visitors of Chicago and connect the downtown center and riverwalk with Navy Pier and the densely populated north side. From a social standpoint, the trail across the bridge offers a healthy and safe activity for individuals and families to enjoy the City and to take in views of the lake.
Pavement Assessment and Management – Chastain & Associates for the Village of Schaumburg
The project design by Chastain & Associates incorporated substantial recycled materials, including recycled asphalt shingles and recycled asphalt pavement for longer-lasting pavements. The longer pavement life expectancy relates directly to lower environmental costs to operate equipment and to produce the required construction materials. The project’s pavement management success reduces costs to the motoring community by constructing longer-lasting, more durable pavements, which improves mileage and reduces vehicle maintenance costs and makes it possible for the Village to program less annually to maintain established goals for its street network.
Phillips 66 Dock Lines Replacements – Farnsworth Group Inc. for Phillips 66, WRB Refining LP
Farnsworth Group completed this project to replace dock lines and build a rack bridge over the USACE Mississippi River levee and Illinois State Route 3 under budget. The speed of the safe installation was exemplified by the implementation of the modular approach. This was demonstrated by the pipe rack bridges which were installed overnight with very little disruption to the public based on a tremendous amount of engineering and up-front planning. The dock lines transport hydrocarbons to and from the Wood River Refinery which supplies diesel and gasoline to meet the energy demands of the region.
Tri-State Tollway (I-294) BNSF Railway Bridge – Gannett Fleming, TranSystems Corp. and HR Green for Illinois Tollway
This project included constructing a site screen fence, noise walls, retaining walls, lighting, pavement work and individualized landscape plans for the BNSF railway bridge. Accommodating desired landscape plans was a challenge due to the limited right-of-way and proximity to BNSF right-of-way. The project team was able to resolve constructability and accessibility challenges on the northwest side of the project by permanently enclosing Flagg Creek in a precast box culvert. This had the benefit of restoring additional parkland for the Village of Hinsdale in Peirce Park.
Waukegan High Service Pump Improvements – Crawford, Murphy & Tilly for the City of Waukegan
In addition to improving the Waukegan Water plant’s pumping capabilities, the engineers designed a major overhaul of its operational components, extended the useful life of the structure and ensured the community retains an important link to the past through this historically significant landmark. Replacing two pumps that were beyond their service life and improving the operational flexibility of the high service pump station greatly improved the reliability of Waukegan’s water and sends a strong signal to the community that providing safe, high-quality water is a top priority. The project engineers estimate the energy savings at more than 650,000 kWh annually, with an annual energy cost savings of about $46,000 for the City of Waukegan.
About the American Council of Engineering Companies
Representing hundreds of companies, we are the voice of the engineering industry in Illinois. With roots dating back more than 100 years, ACEC Illinois represents more than 11,000 engineers, architects, land surveyors and other specialists. Our primary mission is to strengthen the business environment for our member firms through government advocacy, political action, and business education. For more information, please visit www.acecil.org.