More tollway drama emerging among leadership

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Just months after Gov. J.B. Pritzker brought in new Illinois tollway leaders to stabilize the agency amid a power struggle, it appears new turbulence is surfacing at the top.

In February, Pritzker appointed banker Dorothy Abreu of Wilmette as board chairman, and in March, tollway deputy chief of program implementation Lanyea Griffin, an engineer, was picked as interim executive director.

The two women replaced Chairman Will Evans and Executive Director Jose Alvarez who left amid internal friction.

On Wednesday, the tollway board held a special meeting that included an “Executive Director” item for discussion. Directors met in closed session and later voted on the item but no further information was available on Griffin’s status.

Sen. Laura Murphy, who has led a number of tollway reform efforts under Democratic and Republican administrations, said she’s concerned about more upheavals.

“I understand there’s some issues occurring at the tollway,” the Des Plaines Democrat said Friday. “There may be some potential changes coming as they work through these processes.”

Pritzker ushered in a new tollway board and leaders in 2019 as part of a reform agenda. But a major reorganization instituted by Evans in fall 2021 worried lawmakers it impinged on the executive director’s powers to run day-to-day operations. Meanwhile, Alvarez drew scrutiny after hiring a number of former colleagues for executive positions.

Senators held hearings on the dysfunction and approved a bill intended to define the chain of command at the agency last year.

“We passed legislation through the Senate and hopefully the House will take it up that really delineates responsibilities. Clearly, that’s definitely needed there,” Murphy said. “They need to do the business of the tollway.”

Feeds,News,Region: AH,City: Arlington Heights

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August 26, 2022 at 12:19PM

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