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Tollway authority picks new chief as former CEO fights to get new job
By Marni Pyke | Daily Herald Staff

Jeffrey Dailey, new Illinois Tollway executive director


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Published: 10/31/2008 12:03 AM

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Jeffrey S. Dailey returns to the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority as its chief just in time to watch the completion of a major construction effort he started.

Tollway directors Wednesday approved hiring their former chief engineer as executive director. Dailey is expected to start Nov. 19 after leaving his job as assistant executive director of project delivery with the North Texas Tollway Authority.

Directors also endorsed a preliminary $680 million 2009 budget that includes $258 million for operations with $110 million going to salaries, $210 million for debt service and $212 million allocated toward the home stretch of the $6.3 billion congestion relief program.

The mega construction effort involves widening heavily used sections of the Tri-State, I-355, Jane Addams and Reagan Memorial tollways to four lanes. Dailey, who was chief engineer from 2004 to 2007, organized the project.

While most congestion relief work is expected to end next year, Gov. Rod Blagojevich recently announced a $1.8 billion initiative to create carpool lanes for vehicles with two or more drivers, build an interchange at the Tri-State and I-57 and improve the problematic I-90 interchange with I-290/Route 53.

The so-called Green Lanes have been criticized because they would be installed on existing lanes and single drivers would be allowed to use them at a premium price. Dailey, 48, said he needs to meet with tollway staff and the governor to assess upcoming projects before opining about them. He favored learning from other states' carpooling systems on highways and freeways and customizing a plan that works best for Illinois.

Dailey said one reason he moved to Texas was that work on congestion relief and the extension of I-355 was forging ahead and he wanted new challenges. Now he's eager to make the Green Lanes work.

"I'm an engineer and engineers like to solve problems," he said.

Dailey is expected to make about the same salary as his predecessor, Brian McPartlin, who earned $189,000 annually.

McPartlin is leaving the tollway for a job with McDonough Associates, an engineering and architectural firm that's done more than $30 million in business with the authority. He applied to the Illinois ethics commission for a waiver to the state's revolving-door policy, that prohibits government employees from taking jobs with companies that have won taxpayer-funded contracts with their help.

Although there's a tradition of approving such waivers, Illinois Attorney Lisa Madigan is petitioning the commission to intervene in the matter, saying the law should be followed.

McPartlin's attorney Michael Hayes has asked the commission to deny Madigan's petition. While "Brian McPartlin has nothing to hide," the attorney general's office lacks the authority to intervene, he said.

McPartlin's predecessor Jack Hartman left in 2006 after three years in the top job. Asked about the transient nature of tollway CEOs, Dailey said, "I'm here as long as the governor and board want me."