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Lake-Cook Road construction contract questioned

Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Daily Herald
by Robert McCoppin

A Cook County contract for work on Lake-Cook Road has gone on for 12 years and more than doubled its original cost, but the politically connected contractor was again awarded the job Tuesday without competition.

After contentious debate, the county board narrowly approved an engineering contract for $500,000 to McDonough Associates Inc., of Chicago, for two miles of Lake-Cook Road between the Tri-State Tollway and Waukegan Road in Deerfield.

In 1998, the company was originally given a county contract for $944,000 for work on the road.

Since then, the firm has received four previous "change orders," bringing their total pay up to $2 million.

That's because the scope of the work keeps expanding and changing, according to Rupert Graham, superintendent of the county highway department.

A day care center came in and required curb cuts for an entrance and exit, and plans had to be changed to account for right-of-way for a mall in the area.

Gregg Goslin, whose district covers the area where the work is being done, supported the contract, saying such change orders are common and it would only make matters worse to change contractors in midstream.

But Timothy Schneider, a Bartlett Republican, said one or two change orders are understandable, but when it becomes five change orders for double the original cost, that's too much.

"At some point," he said, "you have to say, let's go back to a bid."

Under competitive bidding, different firms would be invited to do the job for the lowest asking price.

The board approved the McDonough contract by a 6-5 vote. Goslin, of Glenview, Larry Suffredin of Evanston and Jerry Butler, Forrest Claypool, Deborah Sims and Joseph Moreno, all of Chicago, voted for it. Schneider, Liz Doody Gorman of Orland Park and Bridget Gainer and Earlean Collins of Chicago voted against it, with three commissioners voting "present" and three absent.

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