October 30th, 2018
Chicago, IL (October 25, 2018)—Skyway Concession Company (SCC), operators of the Chicago Skyway Toll Bridge (Chicago Skyway), completed a nine-month, $4.5 million dollar renovation and restoration of the Chicago Skyway’s toll plaza canopy, designed by Skidmore, Owings, Merrill, LLP and constructed by F.H. Paschen. The project vision honors the original art-deco design, highlighting features hailed as “ultra-modern” when the plaza originally opened in 1958. In parallel with the canopy renovation, SCC invested an additional $2.5 million dollars in a full “state-of-the art” technology upgrade to enhance plaza safety and provide faster, more efficient customer experience.
“The Skyway has served as a physical and symbolic gateway between Chicago and the east coast for generations. In considering our plans for toll plaza modernization, it was of vital importance to us to pay homage to Chicago and the history of this great bridge,” said CEO Fernando Redondo. “That we could remove the last sixty years of incremental modifications to reflect the historic look and feel of the canopy, while still fully modernizing its tolling technology, is a testament to the progressive and versatile nature of the original toll plaza design.”
The most striking new technical element is the broad span of large variable message signs (VMS), running the entire length of the canopy, color-coded by lane payment type (e.g., green for cash, purple for I-Pass/E-ZPass). These signs were designed to be visible from a greater distance, allowing more time for lane changes and safer transit through the plaza.
Further advancing SCC’s ongoing “smart energy” initiatives, the new VMS boards, canopy structure lighting, and the iconic CHICAGO SKYWAY TOLL BRIDGE sign, all utilize energy efficient LED lighting. Additional technical improvements to the toll plaza include automated toll payment machines for credit card payment, with video instruction, upgraded intercom systems, new surveillance systems, license plate recognition, I-Pass/E-ZPass system upgrades, and more.
The canopy renovation is one of a long list of capital improvement projects completed by SCC at a cost of over $120 million dollars since it took over operations of the Skyway in 2005 pursuant to a $1.83 billion, 99-year lease agreement with the City of Chicago. Soon after transitioning operations, SCC undertook an expansive two-year technology build-out to provide for electronic toll collection (I-Pass/E-ZPass), now utilized by over 70% of Skyway customers. Over the last fourteen years, SCC has replaced or rehabilitated bridge structures spanning the 7.8-mile road, resurfaced all pavement on the roadway and ramps, repainted over twenty bridges and overpasses, and performed drainage repairs for major viaducts. Most notably, SCC completed a complex lead abatement and repainting project for the iconic Chicago Skyway High Bridge and demolished the Skyway Plaza McDonald’s building to increase capacity and provide safer, streamlined transit through the toll plaza. Additional safety and environmental projects include improved roadway and plaza signage, and a new energy efficient LED roadway lighting system.