The Illinois Tollway with Herlihy


Interstate 294



The Illinois Tollway



Herlihy Mid-Continent

Just how much money are we paying in highway tolls, and where does it go? 


You may have heard this question asked before.  It was a lot more common before 1993, when the Illinois Tollway introduced I-PASS, the electronic toll collection system.  Now, twenty-five years later, 1.6 million daily drivers travel up and down Illinois’ concrete arteries shelling out as much as $1.50 for a ticket to ride. 


What most commuters outside the construction industry don’t realize is that ISTHA, The Illinois State Toll Highway Authority, releases an annual financial report that logs every buffalo nickel that exchanges hands over the road. 


In 2019, 97.3% of the Tollway’s revenue will be collected through tolls, to the tune of $1.47 billion dollars. Of that, 75% will immediately go back into funds that power Move Illinois: The Illinois Tollway Driving The Futurethe fifteen-year capital program appropriating $14 billion in capital improvements. 


One such project is the 159th Street Interchange.  The Illinois Tollway released bid quals in January of 2018 for General Contractors to: 

  • Demolish the existing four span bridge 
  • Reconstruct the four feeding ramps 
  • Erect a new two-span structure 
  • Pave the way for future Tollway widening  


The multi-phase bid invitation attracted over a dozen of Chicago’s most recognized and respected bridge builders. 


Early on, Herlihy Mid-Continent Vice President Art Haggerty collaborated with La Grange Crane President Judi Mooncotch Jr. and Project Manager / 3D Lift Plan Certified Expert, Riley Pettrone.  The goal being not only to win the contract but craft a perfect crane lift plan to minimize costs and maximize safety. 


Herlihy Mid-Continent has been a linchpin in Chicago’s Heavy/Civil scene since 1919.  A century later, La Grange Crane and Herlihy share many core values, specifically, Herlihy’s “Goin’ Home Safe” motto that is placed on every safety manual.   


It may take a village to raise a child, but it takes an entire organization to land a $14 million bridge job. 


La Grange Crane President Judi Mooncotch Jr.’s involvement is integral to any public projects that utilize La Grange Crane’s WBE & DBE Certification in both Illinois and Indiana.  The Illinois Tollway’s unwavering commitment to diversity engagement has led to 18.5% of their work awarded to diverse businesses, up from just 7.8% in 2013. 


Herlihy’s Becky Wright and Peter Ellement rounded out the team that blueprinted the RR-17-4349 contract submittal. 


Fast forward nine months, and an incredible lift plan was brought to life under supervision of Herlihy Foreman Will Sidenstick and La Grange PM Riley Pettrone.  A perfect plan is nothing without perfect execution, and on this project, there was both. 



On site, La Grange’s 275 Ton Crane sat perched atop 159th Street, while a La Grange 550 Ton Crane nestled down below straddling the highway’s median.  Traffic Control being the most continuous and challenging project obstacle, each beam was removed and replaced in fifteen-minute intervals overnight, where traffic was halted to a complete stop. 


The next phase of the 159th Street Bridge Reconstruction begins in April 2019.  The team is set to reconvene and perform a mirrored double crane pick that will bring this project one step closer to completed. 


Not one of the Move Illinois: Driving The Future projects gets off the ground without the 1.6 million vehicles that merge, pass, pay, and exit on a daily basis. 


So, on behalf of the Illinois Tollway, thank you for your contribution.