The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has awarded the Illinois Tollway a $150,000 grant to implement the FHWA’s Infrastructure Voluntary Evaluation Sustainability Tool (INVEST). The grant, coupled with a recent partnership with the University of Illinois to develop life-cycle assessment (LCA) tools, will help the Tollway ensure that its 15-year, $12 billion capital program, Move Illinois: The Illinois Tollway Driving the Future, is the cleanest and greenest in the agency’s history.
“The Tollway is committed to making environmental responsibility and sustainability part of everything we do—from planning to implementation to maintenance,” said Illinois Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur. “We are excited that these innovative new tools will not only help us better integrate sustainable practices into our construction projects, but they will also allow us to evaluate their effectiveness during construction and beyond.”
INVEST and the LCA tools will be used to integrate and evaluate sustainable construction efforts for the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90) Rebuilding and Widening Project, the Tri-State Tollway (I-294)/I-57 Interchange Project and Elgin O’Hare Western Access Project, as well as other systemwide improvement projects.
INVEST is a web-based self-evaluation tool that enables transportation agencies to evaluate the sustainability of their projects, as well as their planning, operations and maintenance processes.
INVEST is intended to identify and recognize above-and-beyond efforts toward sustainability and encourage sustainability progress within the fields of highway transportation and roadway construction.
Beginning this year, the Illinois Tollway will use INVEST to evaluate several completed projects to create a historic baseline of sustainable practices, as well as evaluate current Move Illinois projects to help integrate sustainable practices. When the evaluation is complete, Move Illinois projects will be used as INVEST case studies to aid other transportation agencies in their sustainability efforts.
In addition, in partnership with the University of Illinois, the Illinois Tollway will develop LCA tools to help measure the environmental impact of roadway construction. The Tollway board of directors approved a $1.3 million, three-year agreement with the university for this project in April.
The Tollway will use the LCA tools to assess every stage in the lifespan of a roadway or bridge, from the use of materials to construction to maintenance and repairs to disposal or recycling. The assessments will help the Tollway to track and monitor environmental impact by gathering energy and material use data, evaluating the potential impacts and interpreting the results. With these LCA tools, the Tollway will be able to evaluate the environmental impact of any roadway section or corridor from the time it is built until the end of its life many decades later.
The LCA data developed by the Tollway will be integrated with the INVEST program to measure the agency’s sustainability efforts and quantify the environmental impact of these efforts as they are applied to Move Illinois construction projects. Information generated from both tools will enable the Tollway to compare current projects to similar projects built in previous years under older standards.
Together, these tools will allow the Tollway to monitor current sustainable practices, track and evaluate progress against these practices and make informed decisions for future roadway construction and maintenance. This information can then be used to more effectively communicate the environmental, economic and social benefits of the Tollway’s investments in improved sustainability of its construction projects through Move Illinois.