Engineering firm in line for $70 million no-bid contract from Illinois Tollway
(MCT) — The Illinois Tollway gave tentative approval Wednesday for a $70 million no-bid consulting contract to a major engineering firm that would oversee management of the tollway's $12.1 billion Move Illinois rebuilding and widening program.
The firm, HNTB Corp., was chosen over another major engineering firm, Parsons Brinckerhoff Inc.
A committee of tollway administrators chose HNTB because the company had performed a similar role with the agency's last multibillion-dollar systemwide rebuilding program and it felt HNTB was the "right fit" for the job, tollway Chief Engineer Paul Kovacs said.
The tollway has previously awarded HNTB more than $78 million in contracts since 2004, according to the agency.
The tollway's Finance Administration Operations Committee approved the contract, which will go before the full board for a final vote June 28.
As program manager for Move Illinois, HNTB's job would be to coordinate, monitor and measure contractors' performance on all projects, Kovacs said.
"We don't have the in-house expertise and resources to do this ourselves," Kovacs said. "Their focus is (delivering) quality projects, on time and on budget."
Despite the hiring of HNTB, however, the tollway also plans to hire 35 engineers and other staffers over the next five years to work on Move Illinois.
The added positions are expected to cost the agency $17 million over the next five years but will save the agency $23 million by reducing the size of the consulting contract, according to tollway officials.
The tollway is seeking to "strike a balance" between hiring consultants and bolstering its own staff, Executive Director Kristi Lafleur said.
The 15-year Move Illinois program is being funded by the 87.5 percent toll hike that went into effect Jan. 1 and an increase for commercial vehicles that begins in 2015.
The Move Illinois projects include rebuilding and widening the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (Interstate Highway 90); construction of a new interchange connecting the Tri-State Tollway (I-294) to I-57; and building a new Elgin-O'Hare West Bypass.
According to its website, HNTB is the nation's top consultant to toll authorities, serving as the general engineering consultant to more toll agencies than any other firm. The firm has numerous offices nationwide, including in Chicago.