F.H. Paschen – Elgin O’Hare Western Access Project

FH Paschen

(Photo credit: Brian Fritz Photography)

F.H. Paschen is at work on Illinois’ Elgin O’Hare Western Access Project.

By Alan Dorich

If there is anything drivers want, it is the ability to get to their destination as quickly and smoothly as possible. Illinois Tollway’s Elgin O’Hare Western Access (EOWA) Project will help them do that with the addition of 17 miles of new roads and 15 new or improved interchanges.

The $3.4 billion project will provide western access to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. This is not only expected to reduce traffic congestion, but also bring more jobs and economic development to the region.FH Paschen info box

Chicago-based F.H. Paschen is one of the general contractors on the massive project, and is at work on a $59 million section of the road that will connect Interstate 390 (I-390) to Prospect Avenue in Itasca, Ill. “We’re constructing approximately 0.75 miles of eastbound and westbound I-390 including frontage roads and ramps,” Senior Project Manager of the Civil Division Timothy Bea says.

“There’s concrete pavements to do [along with] four separate retaining walls and four bridge structures,” he says, noting that the project also will complete some asphalt paving and implement signage, pavement markings and roadway lighting. The work is scheduled to complete late summer of 2017.

Avoiding Road Blocks

F.H. Paschen's previous work on the EOWA project includes a 2,100-foot-long bridge in Itasca, Ill., that was budgeted at nearly $38 million. “The bridge connects westbound [Interstate 290] I-290 to the new I-390,” Bea says, noting that work started on the bridge in spring 2014.

“[We began] with all the substructure work for the bridge and some ramp work as well,” Bea recalls. The company’s subcontractor began erecting the steel plate girders in late summer and continued into the winter.

In spring 2015, F.H. Paschen poured the bridge deck, constructed the retaining walls and finished its ramp work. “[The bridge] opened up in late July of 2015,” he says.

“This job had a handful of roadblocks which caused some delays, but I think we were able to overcome all of them pretty well,” he says. These included a large radio tower antenna that was next to the site.

“That was causing some [challenges] with our cranes, but we got through that one,” he says, noting that the project team also stayed safe. “There were no lost-time accidents.

“It was a well-coordinated job and everyone worked very safely,” he says. F.H. Paschen self-performed the retaining walls and concrete substructure and superstructure. In addition to the steel erection, FHP subcontracted the earthwork, storm sewer, electrical and rebar insulation work. 

This also marked Bea’s first experience with a bridge of this size and it has taught him lessons he can use to help streamline future work. “We can always do a better job and plan our activities so we can maximize our projects,” he says.

Leading in the Midwest

F.H. Paschen says it is one of the largest, most experienced and respected general contractors in the Midwest. “Since 1975, we have provided full-service construction services on thousands of projects in both the public and private sector,” the company says.

Bea, who has been with F.H. Paschen for 11 years, credits its success to strong managers who have been willing to take chances. “They’ve also been able to create a very good work environment for the employees, too,” he says.

He predicts F.H. Paschen will take on more heavy highway and civil projects for the Illinois Tollway and the Illinois Department of Transportation. “If the funding’s there, we’ll be bidding,” he says.

Spearheading Safety

Ensuring safety is an important part of F.H. Paschen’s culture. “Simply put, there is no job so important, no task so urgent that we cannot take the time to ensure a safe and healthy work environment,” the company says. “To maintain this critical objective, Paschen established a comprehensive safety program, spearheaded by full-time safety professionals and adhered to by all Paschen employees, who receive ongoing training.

“Through the program, our risk management team performs site-specific safety analyses and develops project safety plans for every project,” it states. “The plans are then implemented and monitored by our construction superintendent and dedicated project safety team with the oversight of risk management.

“All together, Paschen’s people and processes ensure the continuous reinforcement and improvement of the safety culture on every construction project,” it says. 

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