Los Angeles — The International Right of Way Association (IRWA) announced that its 2014 Project of the Year was awarded to the Tri-State Tollway (I-294)/I-57 Interchange Project for bringing mobility to the Chicago Southland, while creating jobs and boosting economic development throughout Northern Illinois. IRWA's Project of the Year Competition showcases the role of right of way professionals in bringing leadership proficiency and innovative cost-saving measures to the infrastructure projects they oversee.

A joint effort between the Illinois Tollway and the Illinois Department of Transportation, the $719 million interchange project is part of the 15-year, $12 billion capital program called Move Illinois: The Illinois Tollway Driving the Future. The interchange will connect residents to employment opportunities that were not easily accessible in the past with a 21st century infrastructure designed to reduce congestion and improve the quality of life for residents and businesses throughout the region. It will also save commuters about 25 travel hours each year and deliver a $4 million annual savings in fuel costs.

Kristi Lafleur, Executive Director of the Illinois Tollway noted, "Our primary goal is to provide a safe and efficient highway system for the Tollway's 1.4 million daily drivers. And the more partnerships we have, the better for everyone involved. To build the new interchange, we worked with a host of residents, businesses, transportation, environmental and economic development advocates, more than a dozen local municipalities, as well as federal, state and local agencies. We hold this project up as a great example of what can be accomplished when everyone works together toward a shared vision."

In recognizing the project winner, IRWA International President Lee Hamre, SR/WA, R/W-URAC, R/W-RAC said, "With today's critical transportation infrastructure projects, this is a stellar example of how highly-skilled right of way professionals implement best practices to attain successful project delivery while meeting an aggressive schedule. I applaud the winners for integrating green construction efforts and for their commitment to improve nearby wetlands and waterways located in the project area."

IRWA Executive Vice President Mark Rieck added, "Professionals who are skilled in right of way best practices can really make a tangible difference in a project's bottom line. The Illinois Tollway's project team was able to compress the acquisition schedule and still trim $3 million from the budget. These are measurable results that speak volumes about the unique skillset of all involved."

Right of Way Magazine will feature the Tri-State Tollway (I-294)/I-57 Interchange Project in its November/December 2014 issue, along with the Top 10 Projects of the Year. In ranking order, they include:

1) Tri-State Tollway (I-294)/I-57 Interchange Project

Illinois Tollway and Illinois Department of Transportation (Illinois)

2) North Tarrant Express Segment 1 & 2W Project

Atkins Global and Texas Department of Transportation (Texas)

3) State Route 91: Right of Way Acquisition and Relocation

Riverside County Transportation Commission (California)

4) Northeast Utilities' Greater Springfield Reliability Project

Burns and McDonnell Engineering, Inc. (Connecticut/Massachusetts)

5) The Oakwood Beach Buyout Project

ProSource Technologies, LLC (New York)

6) San Gabriel Trench Grade Separation Project

Paragon Partners Ltd. (California)

7) Sweet Creek Retaining Wall Replacement Project

Lane County Public Works (Oregon)

8) Bay Area Rapid Transit Silicon Valley Project

Towill, Inc. and Valley Transportation Authority (California)

9) Highway 1804 Widening & Improvement Project

North Dakota Department of Transportation (North Dakota)

10) Kusile Coal Generation Social Resettlement Project

Eskom Holdings Limited (South Africa)