From plan to progress: The Central Tri-State’s transformation

Group of people, several wearing safety vests, posing for a photo on an interstate roadway
Five years ago, Hanson completed its work on the master plan that enabled the $4 billion Central Tri-State Tollway improvements. Construction started on the corridor in 2018, and substantial completion is expected in 2026. Hanson’s John Nelson, back row, third from left, poses with Tollway planning staff celebrating the opening of the Mile Long Bridge, a key feature of the Illinois Tollway’s 22-mile project.

The most heavily traveled corridor in the Illinois Tollway system, the central section of the Tri-State Tollway (Interstate 294) around metropolitan Chicago, needed extensive improvements when the Tollway’s board of directors earmarked funding in 2011 to kick off the much-needed project. The Tollway allocated $1.9 billion from a 15-year, $12 billion capital program for roadway, bridge and ramp reconstruction along the 22-mile Central Tri-State stretch of I-294 to replace portions of the vital urban expressway’s original 1950s pavement. The master plan justified increasing the program budget to $4 billion for widening and reconstruction.

The Tollway selected four prime teams to conduct studies and develop design concepts for the Central Tri-State master plan. As part of a tri-venture led by Jacobs Engineering Group Inc., Hanson served as the design corridor manager, overseeing the four design teams and assisted Jacobs with preparing the section of the corridor master plan that addressed the stretch from Cermak Road to Balmoral Avenue. Five years ago, Hanson completed its work on the master plan, which helped usher in the Tollway’s ongoing design. Construction started on the corridor in 2018, and substantial completion is expected in 2026.

Essential improvements to support the region’s economy

In addition to easing congestion and accommodating the demands of current and projected traffic flow in this critical corridor, the project improves critical freight connections, linking rail and air intermodal ports in support of regional businesses that rely on travel time reliability. The project encompassed widening and reconstructing the busy urban roadway from Balmoral Avenue to 95th Street, which sees more than 300,000 vehicles each day. In addition to rebuilding several interchanges and bridges, the design included SmartRoad technology and flex lanes, widened shoulders that the Tollway can use for incident management and to manage growing demand.

In addition to assisting in the development of the master plan, Hanson’s team had the privilege of contributing to the detailed design phase of the critical roadway section between the I-55 and Ogden Avenue interchanges where traffic modeling showed the highest design-year traffic volumes would occur. Challenges included fitting 12 lanes into an eight-lane footprint to accommodate traffic demands while minimizing the construction impacts on nearby property owners.

Working with joint venture partner TranSystems, Hanson prepared construction documents for the 2-mile section from south of 47th Street to north of Ogden, which included replacing the bridge carrying the Central Tri-State over Flagg Creek, modifying the Ogden interchange. In addition, Hanson led the design for the replacement of the bridge carrying the Central Tri-State over I-55.

Making progress a priority

Although the COVID-19 pandemic struck in the middle of the project, the Tollway reacted safely and swiftly, keeping only its most critical employees in its offices and setting up effective remote work locations. No progress was lost during the period of isolation, and construction and design continued as scheduled.

The project also involved significant public engagement. Hanson and the Tollway conducted many public meetings with stakeholders and residents while the master plan work was underway, traveling and meeting with all the communities and neighborhoods along the corridor.

“As corridor manager, I had the pleasure to support the Tollway planning team during the development of the master plan,” said John Nelson, P.E., a vice president and senior project manager at Hanson’s Chicago regional office. “Working with these talented folks was one of the highlights of my career.”

Moving forward

This year has been the biggest construction year in the Tollway’s history as it works toward wrapping up the Central Tri-State reconstruction.

“So many great things came out of this project and our collective effort,” said former Tollway Chief of Planning Rocco Zucchero. “There are going to be some lasting improvements that go well beyond the pavement and noise walls that are being delivered.” 

The Tollway maintains project updates on its website.

John Nelson can be reached at

Aerial photo of construction being performed on an interstate
Hanson was responsible for a design section that included the Tri-State Tollway over I-55. Credit: Cheuk-Fu (Peter) Au, P.E., Globetrotters Engineering Corp.

Florida drainage project anchored in history

Construction worker helping to excavate a small boat
Crews from Southeastern Archaeological Research Inc. (SEARCH) removed soil and mud layer by layer to expose an approximately 20-foot-long section of the maritime vessel found during a drainage improvements project at the intersection of King Street and Avenida Menendez in St. Augustine, Florida. Credit: Daniel Fiore, SEARCH/Florida Department of Transportation, District Two

A typical roadway project made way for an extraordinary excavation project this fall in historic St. Augustine, Florida.

A construction crew from the Florida Department of Transportation’s (FDOT) District Two was digging as part of a drainage project at the intersection of King Street (State Road 5A) and Avenida Menendez in St. Augustine, the oldest city in the U.S., when it discovered a mostly intact, approximately 24- to 28-foot-long 19th century maritime vessel sitting 8 feet beneath the surface.

According to FDOT, its maritime archaeology specialist crew from Southeastern Archaeological Research Inc. (SEARCH) has been painstakingly removing the mud and soil around the well-preserved vessel. The waterlogged, easily broken wooden planks and other associated found artifacts were placed in wet storage to protect them from the damaging air.

Hanson designed the new stormwater drainage outfall system in this busy commercial district. The project entails the installation of a 54–60-inch drainage pipe system and backflow prevention device from the Matanzas River wall through the intersection of Avenida Menendez and King Street. The improvements also include reconstructing a concrete masonry wall, a new timber pergola, metal and concrete stanchions with guard railing, curb and gutter, sidewalks, lighting, asphalt resurfacing and other incidental construction. New landscaping will be installed in the area once the project is completed.

“We always knew that this construction project would yield interesting historic finds, given its location in the heart of the oldest city in our country,” said Chantal Bowen, P.E., a senior project manager in Jacksonville, Florida, who served as Hanson’s project manager for the drainage work. “It has been exciting and fascinating to follow SEARCH’s team of archaeologists and FDOT as they recovered, documented and removed this gem from its home of many years. It makes you wonder where this small vessel traveled and who it carried.”

Chantal Bowen, P.E., can be reached at

Toasting five years of free-flowing traffic in Galesburg, Illinois

The Rev. Jon A. Sibley A. Sr. Underpass opened in 2018, the final of three grade separations that significantly improved traffic flow and the overall quality of living in Galesburg, Illinois.

Five years ago this month, the city of Galesburg, Illinois, opened to motorists the final of three grade separations that significantly upgraded the movement of traffic and overall quality of living in the northwest Illinois community.

Bridging the gap

In 2000, the city began laying the groundwork for a plan to address the problems saddling residents because of the busy Chillicothe and Mendota rail subdivisions. After studying multiple options, including relocating tracks outside the city, Galesburg determined that the most cost-effective solution would be grade separations at three crossings — the Donald L. Moffitt Overpass on West Main Street, completed in 2012; the Bickerdyke Bridge at North Seminary Street and Kellogg Street, which opened in 2014; and the Rev. Jon A. Sibley Sr. Underpass, unveiled in 2018. The American Public Works Association Illinois Chapter recognized the Sibley underpass with its 2019 Public Works Project of the Year Award in the transportation category for $5 million–$25 million projects, and the American Council of Engineering Companies of Illinois honored all three grade separations with its 2019 Special Achievement Award.

Main Street and Seminary are main arterial routes in Galesburg, and 100 trains per day used the West Main and Seminary crossings, traveling at 30 mph; vehicles averaged 4–5 minutes of wait time per train. The West Main tracks divided the residential northeast side of the city from the downtown business district and two of the local hospitals from the ambulance service.

“The development of the railroad bridges in our community has proven to be a tremendous asset to the Galesburg Fire Department and the citizens of Galesburg from a public safety aspect,” said Galesburg Fire Chief and Knox County Emergency Management Agency Coordinator Randy Hovind. “They have allowed us to expedite emergency services where once we may have been delayed due to railroad crossings that were in use.”

Giving the community a voice

Public involvement was a high priority during the project’s planning stages. Hanson and the city employed the context-sensitive solutions (CSS) approach to involve all stakeholders, including residents, in the decision-making process. The project team sought public opinion during all stages of the project, seeking input regarding aesthetics, landscaping and land acquisition.

“It was great to have the community’s input and support,” Wayne Carl, former Galesburg city engineer and public works director, said of CSS. “There wasn’t much opposition to this project, because the community looked at all the options, main design elements, aesthetics.”

Challenges and solutions

Historic preservation and land acquisition were major aspects of these projects. Galesburg is home to the National Railroad Hall of Fame, and the project team was able to improve access to the facility by curving the alignment of the roadway near the Seminary overpass. The design of the curved alignment also allowed the team to remove homes situated in such a way that their residents couldn’t exit their driveways without backing over tracks. Additionally, the team acquired land for a grain business near the West Main overpass that enabled the construction of a road, improving truck access to two trackside silos.

The completion of the East Main underpass helped the city realize its goal of freeing residents and emergency responders from the frequent traffic congestion and train horn noise that, for decades, had a stranglehold on Galesburg. Emergency vehicles’ response times have improved by as much as four minutes throughout the city since the grade separations opened. The projects also have improved local police patrols’ ability to monitor the community.

According to the city’s police chief, Russell Idle, “The railroad grade separations have greatly benefited the Galesburg Police Department in our ability to help our citizens. In the world of public safety, sometimes seconds count, and this project has given us access to those precious seconds to save lives.”

With the three bridges, Galesburg residents have seen their city take on a new life of vastly improved traffic circulation and access, including an enhanced economic climate in the downtown area. Train horn noise has decreased with the addition of quiet zones, allowing students and workers to focus more easily on their tasks and making open windows a reality.

The results of this project, however, extend beyond owner and public satisfaction. “From my perspective,” Carl said, “in addition to what they have provided above, the grade separations have aided in accessibility to the downtown area, which has led to improved business and has improved economic development. It has also provided a welcoming entrance to the heart of the city. This project has breathed life into our downtown.”

Connected and automated vehicles will drive our future

By David McDonald Jr., P.E., PTOE, Ph.D.

Are we ready for self-driving automobiles to be the norm on our streets and highways? The future of roadway transportation is a fascinating and frequent topic among roadway engineers and experts. As we see more progress and testing of autonomous vehicles, we also find ourselves facing more questions about how best to prepare our infrastructure to accommodate this type of transport.

This summer, in Amsterdam, as part of the Sixth International Symposium on Highway Geometric Design, I co-hosted an automated vehicle workshop with two European experts in the field. Ravi Chaurdhary and Marco van der Linde, of the Dutch engineering firm Royal Haskoning DHV, led the workshop.

David McDonald wearing a tan jacket stands at a lecturn during a presentation in Amsterdam

Hanson vice president, roadway discipline manager and chief roadway engineer David McDonald Jr., P.E., PTOE, Ph.D., explored with attendees how road authorities, original equipment manufacturers, the tech industry and engineers should prepare for a future with connected and automated vehicles during the symposium.

Preparing for automation

With the symposium attendees, we explored how road authorities, original equipment manufacturers, the tech industry and engineers should prepare for a future with connected and automated vehicles (CAV) on our roads. We discussed technical design topics, such as stopping sight distance, braking distance, horizontal sight offsets, lane and shoulder widths and vertical curves. Questions raised during the discussion included:

  • What is the role of each type of stakeholder?
  • What do the stakeholders need from each other?
  • How do we prepare for this future?
  • How can each group ease the transition toward fully connected and automated driving?
  • Which geometric design choices should be made (or not made) to facilitate this onset of CAVs?

Among the challenges we face include navigating automation levels, which range from 0 (no automation, or human-dependent) to 5 (full automation, or no human operation necessary), the various types of sensors and technologies associated with automated vehicles and the timeline for achieving full automation. New criteria will need to be added to geometric roadway design to accommodate the impacts of automated vehicles mixed with human-driven vehicles and to take advantage of vehicle streams that are exclusively automated vehicles (AVs).

Considerations will be needed when the automated vehicles exit their operational design domain (ODD) or experience a breakdown. Design considerations may include safe stopping zones to provide a location for the vehicle to pull over and adequate space for the vehicle to return to the road.

David McDonald wearing a tan jacket stands with his hands holding an envelope in front of people seated at tables.
David interacts with workshop attendees of the Sixth International Symposium on Highway Geometric Design in Amsterdam.

Reimagining roadways

The mix of designers, engineers, researchers and road owners from across the globe who attended the symposium workshop split into working groups to examine and prepare a solution to the topics I discussed in my presentation. Part of the talk included a clear explanation of road classifications to help the participants understand the road type being examined. The groups studied a rural, multi-lane, grass median, divided interstate in Illinois to determine which elements of its design might be affected by connected and automated vehicles. Although the case study was from a freeway in Illinois, enough detail was provided to recognize this case study would apply wherever similar road geometry is found.

The participants identified how striping, pavement condition, pavement maintenance and lane designation could be important for the AVs and explored their thoughts on changing the median and dedicating certain lanes strictly to AVs. When the participants were comfortable with their ideas and recommendations for the freeway segment, they were asked to explore the same freeway with an interchange entrance ramp and exit ramp. The more complicated design requirement created robust conversation and a better understanding of the complexity of designing for AVs.

The past benefits the future

Later in the symposium, I presented two updated papers that I had discussed at the 2021 Transportation Research Board annual meeting, “Vertical Curves, At-Grade Railroad Crossings and Ramp Terminals: Geometric Impacts by Automated Vehicles” and “Lessons Learned in Roadway Design.” The latter summarized many things I have learned about design over the years. Based on their questions, the audience was particularly interested in how to document design calculations.

More futuristic, the first paper was in line with the topic of the workshop. I looked at how potential adjustments could be made to design criteria in AASHTO’s “Green Book” if we were to take advantage of AV technologies and their expected operations. I specifically examined several geometric conditions. Crest vertical curves could be affected by AV perception/reaction time (termed “latency” by other authors), acceleration/deceleration rates and eye and object heights. With at-grade railroad crossings, AVs may be able to sense approaching trains without line of sight. When all the vehicles are automated, ramp entrance and exit terminals could become shorter.

Do we have a lot of questions about the future with automated and self-driving vehicles? Absolutely. Are we excited to continue to discover and plan what that future will look like on our roadways and for our travel? Yes! Until my next update, I leave you with this quote from Alfredo Garcia with the Polytechnic University of Valencia in Valencia, Spain:

“For the development of a safe automated system, the design of possible maneuvers to achieve a Minimal Risk Condition (MRC) when an ODD ends without the driver taking over control is a fundamental part. Thus, it is necessary to study, for each road section where SAE Level 3 or higher automation is permitted, the possible locations that meet the requirements for MRCs.”

In other words, if the driver is unable to take control of the vehicle, where will the vehicle go? Our roads need to be designed to address these safe stopping zones. What will those zones look like? With more communication among sharp, knowledgeable minds like the ones I was privileged to meet in Amsterdam, research needs will be identified and addressed, and the transportation community will implement designs to better support AVs.

David McDonald Jr., P.E., PTOE, Ph.D., is a vice president, roadway discipline manager and chief roadway engineer who works at Hanson's Chicago regional office. He has been with the company since 2002. Contact him at

Moved to design: Meet Hanson’s Mateo Requenez

a photo of mateo requenez in a blue shirt

Mateo Requenez recently joined Hanson as a roadway designer at the company’s Corpus Christi, Texas, office.

For Mateo Requenez, an early fascination with road construction fueled his interest in engineering and roadway design. After earning a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Texas A&M University – Kingsville in 2022, Mateo started his career at Hanson as a roadway designer at the company’s Corpus Christi, Texas, office.

As a new member of the Hanson team, Mateo’s role involves performing calculations of roadway quantities and roadway modeling and visiting construction sites. Mateo says his motivation at work comes from knowing he is doing something he loves, learning new things and making his family proud.

Here, Mateo talks more about his career and what drives him at work and in life.

What led me to pursue this career?
Growing up, I always found construction to be fascinating — the concrete barriers on the side of the streets and the big trucks spraying water and paving asphalt. It was from those memories that I found the passion to design roads.

a photo of mateo's family in a church setting
Mateo enjoys spending time with his family and says their love and support motivate him to do his best and make them proud.

What I do on a typical day on the job:
Currently, a typical day in the office involves looking through plans and engaging in construction contract administration. I am assisting with a site observation, which also has me looking through contract documents and scheduling site material testing.

My favorite part of my job:
My favorite part of my job is coming into the office every day and getting to engage with everyone on our Hanson team.

Notable projects I have worked on:
My favorite project so far has been a project in Odem, Texas, because I was able to learn about how to properly observe a construction site and about material testing. The other project I can’t wait to get started is in Taft, since I will be able to fully witness the rebuilding of the city streets.

What I like to do when I’m not working:
When I am not at work, I love to watch sports, spend time with my family and friends, and play video games.

A photo of Marco Estrada, a roadway designer; Clay Schroeder, a civil designer; Mateo; Marco Lopez and Joshua Sepulveda
From left to right, Marco Estrada, a roadway designer; Clay Schroeder, a civil designer; Mateo; Marco Lopez and Joshua Sepulveda, both student interns, pose for a photo during an open house June 29 at Hanson’s recently renovated Corpus Christi office.

Turning disaster into progress

Tyndall Air Force Base in Bay County, Florida, is on the verge of rebuilding and rebirth after experiencing devastation at the hands of Hurricane Michael in 2018.

Tyndall Air Force Base (AFB) in Bay County, Florida, is on the verge of rebuilding and rebirth after experiencing devastation at the hands of Hurricane Michael in 2018. The hurricane damaged nearly every facility and infrastructure at the base, including utilities, roads and pavement.

Situated 12 miles east of Panama City, Tyndall AFB serves as a home to the 325th Fighter Wing, the 1st Air Force, the 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group and the 601st Air Operations Center and hosts F-22 Raptor training.

An important part of the rebuilding effort required the design of new turn lanes and acceleration lanes for the limited-use, entry-controlled facilities along U.S. 98 through the base.

Hanson, as a subconsultant to David Taylor Construction Inc. for this design-build project, provided plans for roadway design, signing, pavement marking and signalization, as well as drainage design and permitting efforts. The turn-lane improvements along U.S. 98 into the base are designed to meet Florida Department of Transportation standards.

an image of a roadway at Tyndall Air Force Base
The rebuilding effort requires the support of new turn lanes and acceleration lanes.

For Tyndall AFB, recovering from Hurricane Michael is about more than replacing buildings and infrastructure. It’s about turning disaster into progress and transforming the base into a facility driven by sustainability, resilience and innovative technology. According to Tyndall AFB’s website, this effort will help the base “adapt and withstand the challenges of the future.”

an image of a guardrail at tyndell air force base
The base serves as a home to the 325th Fighter Wing, the 1st Air Force, the 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group and the 601st Air Operations Center and hosts F-22 Raptor training.

For more information about this project or how Hanson can help with your next roadway project, contact Travis Shannon at

Unconventional concept transforms problem intersection in St. Augustine

Most communities across the U.S. have at least one of these: problem intersections. You know the ones. They’re usually not hard to spot, and they are challenging to navigate if you’re driving or walking.

They’re often characterized by long lanes of backed-up traffic, temperamental traffic signals, unsafe or difficult left turns and traffic incidents.

The city of St. Augustine in northeastern Florida, the nation’s oldest city, had its own problem intersection, which caused headaches for drivers, as well as safety concerns for motorists and pedestrians.

The State Road A1A/San Marco intersection is a gateway entrance to St. Augustine’s historic downtown and an important connection to U.S. 1, SR A1A, as well as the area’s beaches, neighborhoods, businesses and the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind (FSDB). This intersection sees a high volume of traffic, including sightseeing trolleys, semitrucks and vehicles pulling boat trailers.

U.S. 1, San Carlos Avenue and May Street all converged at San Marco Avenue to form two adjacent signalized intersections. This area often became a bottleneck, with traffic backing up several hundred yards in all directions, including onto a nearby bridge. Besides the mounting traffic congestion and frustration caused by these intersections, the city of St. Augustine and the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) District Two were focused on the safety of motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists traveling through this busy, challenging juncture.

In a September 2018 article in First Coast News, Jessica Clark wrote, “After years of frustration, one of the busiest intersections in St. Augustine is finally getting a much-needed facelift.”

Indeed, it was. And Hanson was ready to help the city and FDOT transform the look of the intersection and improve its safety and functionality.

FDOT figures out feasible fix

During the initial planning process, which started with five alternatives, the public asked FDOT to explore more options. Discussions about how to improve the intersection had been ongoing, and community members were actively involved in the evolution of this improvement — calling for new alternatives to improve not only the traffic congestion but their community’s overall infrastructure.

FDOT District Two’s Urban Planning and Modal Administrator, Jim Knight, P.E., came up with an innovative approach. He shared his original concept sketch with Hanson, and we used microsimulation analysis tools to validate the concept. Our analysis proved his creative idea could reduce conflict points and traffic queue lengths and decrease traffic signal phasing from four signals to two, allowing traffic to flow more smoothly.

aerial of st. augustine intersection plans

The unique concept developed for the SR A1A/San Marco intersection improvements in St. Augustine, Florida, by Florida Department of Transportation District Two’s Urban Planning and Modal Administrator Jim Knight, P.E., was used as the basis for Hanson’s microsimulation analysis. The concept was overwhelmingly accepted by the city, stakeholders and public.

The design involved separating two adjacent signalized intersections to form a single quadrant/offset T-intersection. This included realigning the SR A1A (May Street) intersection at San Marco Avenue, dividing SR A1A into two legs, adding dual left-turn lanes along West San Carlos Avenue and extending a left-turn lane along U.S. 1.

This project also involved numerous design elements. These included lighting, which was brought up to new intersection standards, 10 new signal mast arms designed to meet hurricane-force winds, the first High-intensity Activated crossWalK (HAWK) crossing in northeast Florida, redundant traffic signals, visual and audible pedestrian signals and the signage and striping to address the unique lane configurations.

The addition of dedicated right and left turn lanes, median modifications, synchronized traffic signals, sidewalks, shared bicycle lanes and HAWK pedestrian signals improved traffic flow and safety for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Collaboration with community leads to enhancements in safety, accessibility

Throughout this project, the project team worked closely with the FSDB, which is a public school for pre-K and K-12 students who are deaf or hard of hearing, blind or visually impaired or deafblind. The school serves more than 1,000 children on its 80-acre campus less than three blocks away on San Marco Avenue.

Construction is underway for the reconfiguration and relocation of the San Marco and May Street intersection, while motorists continue to travel using the original intersection.

This collaboration was important throughout the design process and led to the installation of two HAWK signals at a new pedestrian crossing. Designers incorporated a delicate balance of sound into the HAWK system and other pedestrian signals to accommodate FSDB students, neighbors and other pedestrians who use this crossing. As part of the HAWK system, pedestrians hear a prompt that announces the crossing street name. These prompts are designed to be loud enough for FSDB students to hear and allow for the audio level to be lowered at night to reduce disturbances to surrounding residential neighborhoods.

In addition to a challenging roadway design, utility conflict resolution and signing and marking, the highly visible project included the design of a new closed drainage collection system to help alleviate a chronic flooding problem, a stormwater management facility, new utilities, environmental permitting, cultural resources and significant public involvement.

“This project showcases the positive outcomes that can occur when engineering and transportation professionals listen to the needs of their clients and communities, engage with them and work together to create a solution that improves safety, travel and quality of life,” said Hanson’s project manager Chantal Bowen, P.E.

This intersection is an important connecting point for U.S. 1 and SR A1A, providing access to historic downtown St. Augustine, the area’s beaches, neighborhoods and businesses and the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind. Today, the new intersection is able to accommodate a higher volume of traffic, safely and efficiently.

Innovative, unconventional design gives intersection a green light

The U.S. 1/SR A1A San Marco intersection was completed in September 2021 and accommodates a much higher volume of traffic than before.

“The project team met an accelerated design schedule for this dynamic and fluid project. As the scope expanded, so did the project team’s commitment to designing a solution that would exceed FDOT District Two’s goals, as well as the expectations of the city of St. Augustine, the public and stakeholders. We accomplished this through innovative design, collaboration, public meetings and a focus on multimodal transportation and safety,” Bowen added.

This concept improved the safety and usability of the SR A1A/San Marco intersection and changed the way FDOT’s District Two approaches intersection design projects by considering innovative, creative ways to improve intersections, traffic phasing and signalization.

“This unique design reflects how FDOT District Two is moving beyond standard intersection design to improve traffic flow and safety. The project is indicative of the types of positive transportation improvements FDOT District Two strives for in our communities, using partnerships with affected entities, providing the best value to stakeholders and our constituents,” said FDOT’s District Two Director of Transportation Robert L. Parks, P.E.

For more information about this project or how Hanson can help you with a project that is important to you and your community, contact Chantal Bowen, P.E., at

Revamping a rural Florida coastal highway

If you’ve ever driven across Florida’s Panhandle, there’s a good chance you’ve traveled on U.S. 98, which is Florida’s longest numbered route, an important east-west connector within the state and a designated hurricane evacuation route. Part of U.S. 98 includes State Road (SR) 30 in northwest Florida’s Wakulla County. SR 30 is a coastal highway that connects area residents, communities and visitors to the region’s businesses, parks, coastal areas and beaches.

Hanson worked with the Florida Department of Transportation’s District 3 to resurface, restore and rehabilitate a 6-mile section of U.S. 98 State Road (SR) 30 from the St. Marks River to the Jefferson County line in Wakulla County, Florida.

SR 30 sees a high percentage of truck traffic; over time, the heavy, consistent volume of trucks caused some severe ruts to occur on SR 30. The road was also settling in spots, developing potholes over deteriorating cross-drain pipes.

SR 30 is in the Florida Department of Transportation’s (FDOT) District 3. FDOT determined that a 6-mile section of SR 30 from the St. Marks River to the Jefferson County line needed repairs, including resurfacing, restoration and rehabilitation. The project scope encompassed travel lanes, truck pull-offs, paved shoulders and drainage. FDOT needed a comprehensive solution, and Hanson approached the challenge from all angles.

Partnering with FDOT’s District 3, Hanson provided transportation engineering, including highway design, traffic operations and structural engineering, to rehabilitate and restore SR 30. To keep motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists safe, the team improved safety elements, such as upgrading guardrails, correcting cross slope and providing audible and vibratory treatments, such as standard thermoplastic markings with ground-in rumble strips to provide lane departure warnings.

Drains, detours and design

One of FDOT’s highest priorities included replacing the weakening cross drains at three locations where the large concrete pipes had separated at the joints and caused seepage, siltation and roadway failures.

Replacing large concrete cross drains at three locations along SR 30 was a high priority during this roadway rehabilitation project.

This wasn’t a small effort. It involved significant underground construction alongside and underneath the roadway. Construction crews replaced five 36-inch-diameter reinforced concrete pipes and three 48-inch-diameter reinforced concrete pipes. The team also checked all drainage structures for erosion, function, scour, sediment accumulation and structural integrity.

During construction, maintaining two-way traffic through the work zone at all times was a critical component. The project team produced a temporary traffic control plan that involved constructing special detours to shift both lanes of traffic in phases. The on-site detours included temporary sheet-pile walls and allowed the cross drains to be replaced and the existing roadway to be reconstructed.               

Hanson used a phased approach to maintain traffic in the work zone during construction.

Because the project was in a sensitive environmental area that included wetlands and karst regions, coordinating environmental aspects was critical to completing the project and protecting the natural area. Karst regions are often characterized by limestone or dissolving rock, which may include sinkholes, underground streams and caverns.

“Construction projects in this area must follow criteria to avoid impacting existing karst areas and prevent sinkholes from forming in the project area. Because we’ve worked in this area on similar projects, our familiarity and experience helped us collaborate with local permitting agencies to meet the environmental permitting requirements,” said Brian Lemieux, P.E., a vice president, senior project manager and regional manager who works at Hanson’s Bonifay, Florida, office. Brian served as the project manager, leading Hanson’s efforts on the project. 

Hanson also submitted permits for impacts to wetlands to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“It was great to work on a project that was so important to the safety of people using this route. Working together with FDOT’s District 3, our efforts helped make SR 30 more durable and safer for those traveling through this corridor while protecting the beautiful, natural environment in Wakulla County,” Lemieux said.

For more information about this project or how Hanson can help you with your next roadway project, contact Brian Lemieux, P.E., at

Lwambagaza, Muñoz earn P.E. licenses

Lina Lwambagaza, P.E., a transportation/traffic engineer in Jacksonville, Florida, and Carlos Muñoz, P.E., a roadway engineer in Lisle, Illinois, have earned professional engineer licenses.

Lina, who joined the company in 2018, earned her license in Florida. She received a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Ardhi University in Tanzania and a master’s degree in civil engineering from the University of North Florida. Carlos, who is licensed in Illinois, joined Hanson in 2014 and has a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Living laboratory in central Illinois driving region’s transportation future

Evolving technology and social trends are changing how people and products move. In the automotive industry, both original equipment manufacturers and startups are driving the adoption of connected, autonomous, shared and electric (CASE) mobility trends at rapidly increasing rates. In the future, vehicles of many forms will be more accessible to more people, transportation will be cheaper and more efficient and commuting will be more convenient, with integrated options for multiple modes of transportation for a single trip.

To prepare for this future, Hanson has partnered with Peoria, Illinois-based Distillery Labs, one of 15 Illinois Innovation Network hubs, to create and manage the Central Illinois Living Laboratory. The living laboratory serves as a testing hub for CASE mobility solutions. The objective of the living laboratory is to create a smart technology network within the public right of way that will allow technology companies the opportunity to beta-test products and solutions that will eventually be brought to market.

The impact from CASE solutions will be generated from using a combination of technologies. But right now, mobility products are at different stages of development and need a testing environment. The goal is to build tools into the public infrastructure that create a mobility workshop for inventors to create new companies and currently unimagined jobs.

To align with the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity initiative, the living laboratory will involve such focus areas as the movement of people, agriculture and goods and applications for agriculture, construction and logistics. As the plan develops, increasing the footprint beyond the Peoria region will be explored based on market needs. The cities within central Illinois are well-connected, and the living laboratory will explore the transition from urban to suburban to rural. Some CASE technologies have the potential to have the biggest impact in rural settings.

In exchange for access to the living laboratory, the companies will provide the ecosystem host and sponsors with access to data and support of the ecosystem. Ultimately, the living laboratory should provide data that is necessary for research on transportation technologies, improve the transportation options to residents and create technology jobs in central Illinois.

Connectivity, in terms of mobility, will revolutionize how we move and pay for services. With project experience like the Central Illinois Living Laboratory, Hanson’s goal is to help our customers embrace the changes to the built environment that are needed to inform travelers in real time and seamlessly integrate the multimodal user experience into one journey.

To learn more about the Central Illinois Living Laboratory, contact Kurt Bialobreski at or Philip Lockwood at

This article first appeared on Hanson’s Forming the Future blog on May 13, 2021.