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Tollway M-14 Site Improvements Nearing Completion

Thursday, November 15, 2018


2018 has been an exciting year at Hamilton Consulting Engineers, Inc., and for our clients.  We have been able to deliver multiple fast-track designs in which the planning and design has been completed in one step allowing multi-million-dollar projects to be completed within 1 to 1½ years.

The project that is the focus of this blog is the Illinois Tollway’s M-14 site improvements for which I am the Senior Design Engineer (big-picture guy, the real engineering is done by the rest of the team), and Brian Bottomley is Project Manager (my boss). The work is currently being constructed by Abari Construction.

Last fall, our Tollway Project Manager, Ed brought me to the M-14 (maintenance garage) site in Downers Gove where I-355, I-88 and Finley Road intersect.  There were three issues:

  1.  At the north end of the site:
    a. the maintenance crews had used old wooden sound walls to hold back an earthen slope on an entrance ramp to I-355.  It was an excellent cost-effective solution when constructed, but now the wood was beginning to rot;
    b. there was not enough storage for equipment;
    c. there was not enough storage for materials;
    d. the runoff from a paved area was splashing against the side of the maintenance garage in heavy rainstorms;
    e. old concrete pavement was cracked and heaving in places.

  2. At the south end of the site:
    a. old wooden sound walls were holding back a paved area next to the salt dome and were beginning to topple into a drainage ditch;
    b. the drainage ditch was paved with concrete that had cracked and disintegrated in places;
    c. the cracked concrete had become home to a dense growth of phragmites australis (an invasive, non-native weed) that was blocking the flow of water. 

  3. Further south on the site was an entrance ramp to northbound I-355:
    a. it was too narrow for the current fleet of large snow plows;
    b. it was too steep to use during ice storms.



Ed asked three questions:
1. What would I do?
2. Could I get him some concept sketches for 3 alternatives, including estimates?  This week?
3. The construction must be completed by next December (not a question).

I like Ed and I like him to like me, so I blurted with confidence, “Sure, no problem!”  I didn’t sleep that night, but he had beautiful color drawings and estimates in his email the next afternoon.

We recommended the project to be bid as a Small Business Set-Aside Project, and Abari Construction was the successful bidder.  The project is ready for paving pending a break in the weather.  The workmanship is beautiful and has been FAST even with some un-helpful weather. 

Here are some pics and descriptions:





The Northwest Corner of the Site, Pre-Construction. 
The sound wall (retaining walls) can be seen in the back. 
Concrete Jersey Barriers are being used to separate stored materials.




The North Side of the Maintenance Garage
(note the water staining along the bottom face of the wall)








The New Walls at the North End of the Site. 
There are optical illusions in this pic.
It IS a large wall, those are NOT large barrels or a small worker











Material Storage Bins at the Northwest Corner of the Site
(compare this to the first pic in the series)








The Storage Bins with the Concrete Bases Poured and Handrails Installed



New Concrete Pavement With Slot Drain Along the North Face of the  
Maintenance Garage















The South Side Ditch Pre-Construction


South Side Storm Sewer
Under Construction


South Side Lot, Storm Sewer is Constructed, Mass Earthwork in Process



  South Side Storm Sewer Complete,
  Standing on the Ramp Looking
  Toward I-355





















Subbase Being Prepared on the Ramp and South Lot (see previous pic)













Fine Grading of the Subbase on the South Lot (compare this to the first pic of the old ditch)

The sad thing about this project is that few will remember what the site used to be, and it will simply be “the new normal.” 
We have been proud to be part of it.


Keep Building!