The Elgin O’Hare/West O’Hare Bypass (EO-WB)


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  • Illinois

The Elgin O’Hare/West O’Hare Bypass (EO-WB) is a $3.6 billion highway that will provide access to Chicago O’Hare airport from the west. The airport’s expansion plans currently include the development of a new western terminal, which would be served by the proposed highway.HR Green has assumed the role of Program Manager for the project’s Tier One and Tier Two Environmental Impact Study (EIS) on behalf of the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT).

HR Green was responsible for monitoring the contract for adherence to scope, the schedule and budget, review, and oversight for review, of deliverables to ensure conformity to IDOT and FHWA design criteria is met. IDOT’s design consultant’s contract for the project was over $54 million from start to completion. The project scope was developed in manageable parts through the tiered process as the scope became clearer and alternatives were eliminated from further consideration. Nine supplemental agreements were reviewed and refined, for the prime consultant (CH2M) and their 14 sub-consultants, along with all the required supporting documentation by IDOT for process, approval, agreement writing, and notice to proceed. HR Green was directly responsible for identifying key ROW and coordinating with IDOT’s Bureau of Land Acquisition, as well as the FHWA’s Land Acquisition personnel. This element evolved immensely as the project moved into Tier Two due to knowing the exact properties that would be impacted.

IDOT’s aggressive schedule laid out a start date during the summer to winter, over a five-year period, to complete the project in its entirety, Tier One and Tier Two. Thus, Tier One was completed in three years. Tier Two was initiated with some overlap and completed in two years. HR Green, with assistance from the design consultant and the FWHA, was consistently able to adapt the schedule and meet milestones to continue the project towards its ROD in both tiers at a record pace for IDOT. Typical EIS studies resulted in a ROD in Illinois after 10 plus years. Both the Tier One EIS and the Tier Two EIS went through thorough processes and both EIS were completed in approximately 2 ½ years’ time resulting in signed RODs. Following the second ROD, Design Approval for the engineering portion of the project (preferred alternative) was received.

In addition to the aggressive schedule, and due to the size and scope of the project, the high potential for great impacts, and thus, the potential for controversy, this project had to be processed using the FHWA’s Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS) public involvement approach. This CSS approach literally meant meeting with hundreds of stakeholders (large and small, resource agencies, municipalities, other State and federal agencies, private home and business owners, etc.). The success of this project is deeply embedded in the public involvement process developed and implemented as part of the Tier One and Tier Two processes. HR Green utilized a very proactive public outreach schedule that included approximately 160 meetings during the Tier One process alone. This effort also consisted of three major outreach events, two Public Information Meetings, and one Public Hearing. HR Green ensured the project remained in general conformance with the CSS policy and was responsive to the public while acting as Illinois DOT’s liaison. In addition to administering a formal public involvement program, HR Green was responsible for maintaining the project website and responding to inquiries from the electorate, public, outside agencies, business/property owners, and IDOT staff.

The Elgin O’Hare/West O’Hare Bypass project was subjected to the Cost Management, Value Engineering, Risk-Based/Best Value evaluations (Monte Carlo scenarios), and Development of a Financial Plan, which outlined numerous potential funding scenarios. The design consultant was responsible for the actual work; however, HR Green was responsible and heavily involved in all aspects of the evaluations and workshops associated with these requirements. Numerous alternative funding scenarios were explored from IDOT programming and constructing the facilities, to looking into design/build and 3P options, as well as exploring the ability of the Illinois Tollway to take over the design/construction/jurisdiction of the project and funding the project via tolls/bonding. Ultimately, the tollway option was selected as the preferred method to finance and build the project at a cost of $3.4 billion over 10 years. The cost you will notice is slightly less than the $3.6 billion dollars.  The difference is the $3 billion project was considered a ‘full build’, while the $3.4 billion project eliminated (deferred) some features (full interchanges, number of through lanes, etc) until required in the future.

This project also required both resource and private Agency Coordination (i.e., O’Hare Modernization Program), Utility Coordination, and Railroad Coordination. HR Green also had extensive involvement in the development of Corridor Planning Group (CPG) and the NEPA 404 Merger Process. During the project, HR Green’s Program Manager, Ron Krall, was the sole source keeper responsible for accumulating and developing the Administrative Record for the project. Ron accumulated final documentation for all deliverables and coordination that occurred in both tiers. He divided this task into tiers and ensured that IDOT had a full and accurate record of everything that occurred over the course of the Elgin O’Hare/West O’Hare Bypass project.

Additionally, HR Green prepared progress reports for each monthly invoice which included a statement summarizing the work performed during the reporting period and additionally it outlined work expected to be performed during the following period. HR Green continues to be a resource for post-design approval questions for the Tollway and its consultants since the completion of the Phase I/NEPA study.

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