The Kingery-Borman Expressway south of Chicago was originally constructed in 1950 for 60,000 vehicles per day. It was carrying 160,000 vehicles per day by the early 2000s with approximately 40% of the traffic consisting of semi-trucks on deteriorating roads and bridges. In 1995, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) initiated a 6.6-mile, $450 million reconstruction project to bring the I-80/I-94/IL 394 interchange up to current design standards and improve safety, mobility and overall road conditions.

HNTB's design work consisted of widening and reconstructing approximately 4 miles of the existing four-lane expressway along IL 394 from south of Thornton-Lansing Road to I-94 just south of the centerline of 159th Street. The project also included the removal and replacement of seven bridges, highway drainage, lighting and floodway permitting. HNTB's structural expertise and vast design experience played a key role in developing unusual bridge types that were necessary due to the proposed vertical and horizontal alignments, hydraulic requirements and poor soil conditions.

Throughout the process, HNTB’s designers were presented with several difficult issues including:

  • Working with IDOT to change a standard three-span bridge carrying IL 394 southbound traffic over Thorn Creek into a longer five-span three unit, flared, curved steel girder bridge due to soft soils in the area of the south approach.
  • Modifying a five-span curved steel girder bridge carrying northbound IL 394 traffic over Thorn Creek to allow it to share a common gore area and abutment with the Ramp J Flyover bridge carrying I-80 eastbound traffic to northbound I-94.
  • Developing a robust maintenance of traffic (MOT) plan to maintain three lanes of traffic throughout the interchange while replacing two cloverleaf interchange ramps with two flyover directional ramps
  • Designing a 555-meter-long, nine-span bridge with 9-foot-deep plate girders
  • Navigating a Native American archeological site
  • Matching the Illinois Tollway's future expansion plans to the west and the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) expansion plans to the east.

By following the practice of determining the needs and expectations for a client, HNTB designers worked closely with IDOT, the neighboring Indiana DOT and other consultants to coordinate the development of 14 separate construction contracts. The team also worked closely with IDOT's resident engineer to expedite resolutions to contractor requests and field issues, helping keep the project on time and less than five percent over the bid price.


Location: Chicago, IL

Client: Illinois Department of Transportation