JOLIET – A committee assembled to guide the Will County Community Friendly Freight Mobility Plan interviewed four firms Wednesday and settled on a top pick.
The committee, composed of five Will County Board members and other county officials, spent about four hours interviewing AECOM, TranSystems, CDM Smith and Parsons Brinckerhoff.
Committee members took notes while each firm presented for 30 minutes based on a series of talking points given in advance by the committee. After each presentation, the committee held 15-minute question-and-answer sessions using questions that the firms had not seen before the meeting.
After all the presentations were complete, the committee members each listed their top three choices. Members agreed that TranSystems came in last, and thus, removed the firm from the discussion.
The committee then talked for about 30 minutes about the strengths and weaknesses of the remaining firms. Members then ranked them from first to third place.
CDM Smith came in first, followed by Parsons Brinckerhoff in second and
AECOM in third.
On Thursday, the full Will County Board is expected to vote whether to authorize Will County Highway Engineer Bruce Gould to enter into negotiations with the firms.
If the action is approved, Gould would negotiate with CDM Smith. If that falls through, he’d then move on to Parsons Brinckerhoff, and so on.
The study, aimed largely at putting Will County in position to secure big-ticket federal and state transportation grants, but also at addressing workforce mobility and livability issues, is expected to cost in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and be completed by April 2017.
Gould, who is on the committee, said he was surprised and disappointed AECOM did not correlate any of its work on the Will Connects 2040 plan to its proposal Wednesday.
Will County Center for Economic Development CEO John Greuling said that while the top concern is securing grant dollars, he was disappointed in each presentation’s lack of focus on how to address workforce mobility.
Ann Schneider, who the Will County Board approved Aug. 18 to manage the mobility plan, credited Parsons Brinckerhoff as being the only firm to point out that the U.S. Department of Transportation could do another round of FASTLANE grants before the end of the year.
The grant application season is usually in the spring, but the current federal administration may give more money for projects before it leaves office.
“Who thought politics would get involved?” County Board Speaker Jim Moustis, R-Frankfort, joked.
Parsons Brinckerhoff was adamant it has resources in place that will allow the county to apply for grants by Thanksgiving if needed.
The consensus seemed to be that CDM Smith had the most well-rounded presentation.