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Illinois 15 bridge project was $6 million over budget. Who will pay the extra costs?

Belleville News Democrat

Tuesday, September 26, 2017  |  Article  |  By Joseph Bustos

Budget--State (8) , Transportation (91) Hoffman, Jay--State House, 113
How much the state had to pay because of an unsuitable design for the Illinois 15 bridge replacement project east of Belleville is still unknown, the agency said.

Illinois Department of Transportation spokeswoman Kelsea Gurski said the agency is still determining how much of the cost increases for the project, which lasted two years longer than expected, was due to design flaws and necessary redesign work.

“Once these values are determined, the department plans to seek reimbursement from the responsible parties,” Gurski said. “This effort is expected to take a considerable amount of time.”

Gurski could not be more specific on a time frame.

The agency has said it may seek litigation for the overrun costs related to the original design.

Most of the engineering work for the bridge replacement over Illinois 13 and the Illinois Central Railroad was contracted to engineering firm STV Inc. for $667,000.

The firm could not be reached for comment for this story.

There were delays after additional design work was needed to account for soil settling on the site, as well as problems relating to a temporary retaining wall, among other issues.

“Many projects have the possibility of encountering issues during construction that might result in additional costs,” Gurski said. “This particular project encountered multiple issues, many of which were a result of the original design. Resolution for these issues required extensive redesign, which was the major cause for the project’s delay.”

IDOT supervising field engineer Steve Putz also has said rain in late December 2015 and early January 2016 that led to flooding in the St. Louis region also affected the bridge work site, including movement in a temporary retaining wall.

Keller Construction was awarded the construction project for $14 million. After the delays, IDOT expected the construction costs to balloon to $20 million.

“As with all of our projects, the department intends to use this experience to further our investigations into new design techniques and construction processes in order to streamline project construction in the future,” Gurski said.

Lane restrictions were put in place in 2013, when IDOT began demolishing the eastbound bridge over Illinois 13 and the Illinois Central Railroad tracks. IDOT removed lane restrictions on Illinois 15 and opened an exit ramp in July.

The restrictions were a point of frustration for many motorists as the project dragged on.

Among those frustrated commuters was State Rep. Jay Hoffman, who at the time said it seemed the interstate highway system was built faster than the Route 15 bridge project. He added project engineering work needed to be watched more carefully.

“They just have to be, I think, more mindful that when they begin construction that the design is correct,” Hoffman said.