Randall Road Corridor Improvements
Firm: TransSystems and BLA, Baster & Woodman, Civiltech, HDR
Owner: McHenery County Division of Transportation
Description:Original or Innovative Application of New or Existing Techniques Drone technology was used in the reevaluation to help communicate the need for improvements to stakeholders. Drone video (screen captures above) revealed multiple safety concerns, traffic backups, and cut-thru traffic issues. This information led to the use of innovative design techniques. First-of-a-kind triple left turn lanes were installed to accommodate heavy turning movements while allowing access to businesses. Flashing yellow arrows (FYA) with high visibility backplates were placed on the traffic signals to improve safety, and a fourth thru/right outside auxiliary lane was added to carry the high volume of traffic through the most congested commercial segment.
The project also included the design and construction of two new mechanically stabilized earth retaining walls (images above) along Randall Road through wetland areas with poor soils. To mitigate this issue, the engineering team designed a unique timber pile ground improvement system which provided the required bearing and will greatly reduce future settlement. The timber piles were set in a grid pattern and a load transfer platform was compacted on top to spread the bearing pressure of the wall through soil arching. This design provided an economical, reliable, and constructible solution and was one of the value engineering (VE) elements implemented in the project.
Future Value to the Engineering Profession and Perception by the Public This project was well received by the public for a multitude of reasons. Stakeholders, who were instrumental in developing the final solutions, were kept informed during the life of the project. An extraordinary amount of public outreach was used to engage the community and the hundreds of businesses along the work zone. Very few, if any, other projects can boast the constant and informative flow of information to the public. The project website was updated weekly with current information, including interactive visualizations, construction videos and live webcams.
Social, Economic and Sustainable Design Considerations An economic analysis determined that the Randall Road Corridor was an economic engine for the County. The analysis projected reduced travel times, increased capacity, and enhanced economic benefits for the area – and in turn the Randall Road project gained increased public support.
The project brought additional value to the adjacent communities by including design elements and changes desired by their residents. A pedestrian underpass was constructed near Jacobs High School serving the Village of Algonquin by removing the barrier caused by the new eight lane Randall Road facility. A compensatory storage site was relocated further away from Randall Road adding value to both the Village of Lake in the Hills and City of Crystal Lake. This modification allowed for a multiuse path to be placed adjacent to the corridor and avoided impacts to a highly valued future commercial out lot and Ken Carpenter Park.
Complexity The initial hurdle was to design a corridor and intersection within a built-up area that could accommodate over 70k vehicles per day and was accepted by the stakeholders. The final eight lane facility with triple lefts accomplished this task. The next major milestone was addressing funding constraints. The overall project cost was reduced by more than $6M through value engineering. These cost saving items included partnering with the adjacent communities to obtain compensatory storage land, moving the mainline sewer to avoid lengthy and expensive utility relocations, implementing cost effective ground improvements, and reducing the amount of property required via design modifications. In addition, the project team assisted in securing additional CMAQ funding ($12M) and divided the improvements into two more manageable contracts ($46M and $44M) allowing the funding deadline to be met and the first contract to be implemented.
Exceeding Owner Needs From the beginning of design through final construction, the project team worked in unison with the County to successfully complete the corridor improvements on time and at budget. The first contract for Randall Road was advertised in the summer of 2018 and the project was awarded with a contract value of $45.9M. In the Fall of 2021 this first contract was completed on schedule with construction change orders totaling approximately 1% of the awarded contract value. Typically, construction contracts have change orders ranging from 5-10% of the awarded contract value. This low value of change orders can be attributed to a commitment to quality during design, working closely with the County to ensure all comments were addressed and close coordination with the Construction Manger during construction to review construction issues keeping cost in mind. Another element exceeding the client’s expectations was the use of Bluebeam software during the milestone reviews, which allowed both the County and TranSystems to collaboratively review the submittals and ensure the design was of the highest quality. This was the first project that the County used Bluebeam and it is now a standard procedure within the County.
McHenery County Division of Transportation