Elgin O’Hare Western Access Tollway (IL Rte 390 & I-290 Interchange), Cook County, IL
Contractor: Acura, Inc.
Owner: Illinois State Toll Highway Authority
Engineer: CH2M Hill

Negotiating the busy interchange between Illinois 53/I-290 and Thorndale Avenue in the Northwest suburbs of Cook County was rarely quick or easy. But thanks to this Illinois State Toll Highway Authority (ISTHA) project, any unpleasant thoughts have been replaced by an awareness of the convenience and efficiency that came from the construction of a new interchange.

Completely rebuilding and expanding that interchange while maintaining traffic volumes of more than 176,000 vehicles per day on the Interstate and over 78,000 vehicles per day on Thorndale Ave. acan best be described as a marvel of bridge and road construction management, as well as construction staging to maintain the lane capacity to handle high volumes. These sections of roadway and highway are considered main arteries for much of the busy commerce and many commuters in the Northwest suburbs, as well as traffic feeding into the growing areas west of O’Hare airport. Closure of these heavily-trafficked facilities simply was not an option.

This complex project required using two agencies’ requirements and specifications – the tollway authority and the Illinois DOT’s. Acura, Inc., as part of its subcontract to build the pavement on these busy IDOT and tollway sections was able to do so while maintaining a high level of quality required by both agencies.

The project involved placing almost 83,000 SY of concrete for a total of 11.78 lane mi. Within the project there were 10 intersections/interchanges and 10 bridges along the route. The concrete pavement thickness was 10.5 in. on 3 in. asphalt base. The ternary concrete mixture was developed to the tollway’s specifications and was transported by ready-mixed trucks/agitors. Stringless paving meant up to three trucks could discharge ahead of the paver simultaneously, increasing efficiency of the paving operation.

The extremely heavy traffic on this busy tollway/DOT interchange necessitated the use of both lane reductions and staging to ensure a minimum of six lanes open on the northbound/southbound sections and four lanes on the eastbound/westbound sections. In addition, all ramps were required to maintain at least one lane open for traffic during the construction.

This project also dovetails into the tollway’s experimental CRCP sections. Though not part of this actual contract, Acura had to provide transitions to CRCP in order to accommodate future contracts that did implement the various research sections. To accomplish this, a jointed concrete to CRCP transition section was required. The combination of stringless paving and the use of a dowel-bar inserter ensured high productivity and the ability to have access to most of the points in the project.