March 2021, Volume 37, Issue 3 Print

President's Memo

What a difference a month makes! The snow has mostly melted, we got our first taste of spring weather, projects are ramping up, and there’s potentially light at the end of the pandemic tunnel. ACI-IL has been busy finalizing our spring virtual meeting schedule as well as planning for our summer golf outing and hopefully a return to in-person dinner meetings this fall.

We are in the midst of certification season and additional class dates are constantly being added. Also, ACI-IL is now accepting entries for our Excellence in Concrete Construction Awards program. This program recognizes exceptional local concrete construction projects. Entries must be submitted to Joni Jones by April 14th. Please see additional details on certification and the awards program in this newsletter and check out our website for the latest information.

In February, we tried something new and hosted a transportation agency panel for our monthly virtual chapter meeting. We’d like to thank Sean Guzik, Steve Jones, and Cindy Williams again for participating and providing some excellent insight on what is going on at CDOT, IDOT, and the Tollway. Feedback on the new format has so far been positive! Our next meeting will be on March 25th. Cindy has graciously accepted our invitation to put together another presentation and come back to present at the March meeting. ACI-IL had to cancel last year’s in-person April dinner meeting, so Cindy hasn’t provided a true Tollway update since 2019. She’ll provide a more detailed update on 2021 Tollway construction as well as some of the ongoing concrete initiatives she’s leading. This presentation will go beyond what was covered during the agency panel and touch on the many exciting things happening at the Tollway!

As always, please feel free to join our monthly board meetings and contribute. They are currently held virtually the third Thursday of each month.

Stay safe and I hope to see everyone at the virtual chapter meeting on the 25th!

Dan Gancarz

ACI-IL President 2020-2021


Back to top

ACI-IL Named 2020 Outstanding Chaper

Our chapter was given the “Outstanding Chapter” award from ACI National for 2020. We are proud of this accomplishment and could not have done it without our members!

Back to top

Calendar of Events

Virtual Chapter Meeting
Thursday, March 25, 2021
12 pm - 1 pm
Topic: Tollway Update 2021 - Speaker: Cindy Williams

Virtual Chapter Meeting
Thursday, April 22, 2021
12 pm - 1 pm
Topic: Superabsorbent Polymer Research - David Lange

ACI Virtual Convention
March 28 - April 1
Click here for more information

Board Meetings
We hope you'll take the time to join us for our board meetings as they go virtual for now:
Thursday, March 18 - 3:30 pm
Thursday, April 15 - 3:30 pm
If you are interested in attending, please e-mail [email protected] for more information.


Back to top

Upcoming Certification Sessions

Due to the COVID restrictions, class sizes have been reduced and we are taking careful sanitary measures.

April (recently added!)
6 - 7 - Grade 1 Field Testing Technician Certification - Elmhurst, IL

To register, please download forms from our website: or e-mail [email protected] for more information.


Back to top

Join Us for our Next Meeting

We hope you’ll join us for our next meeting on Thursday, March 25th - 12 pm Central Time (US & Canada).

Register in advance for this meeting:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

If you would like a PDH for this meeting, you can request it by e-mailing [email protected].


Cindy Williams will provide an update on 2021 Tollway construction as well as some of the ongoing concrete initiatives she’s leading. This presentation will go beyond what was covered during last month's agency panel and cover the many exciting things happening at the Tollway! 

SPEAKER: Cindy Williams, Deputy Chief of Program Implementation

Cindy Williams joined the Illinois Tollway in March 2018 as Deputy Chief of Program Implementation. She brings with her 20 years of experience in construction and materials management. At the Tollway she is responsible for infrastructure asset management and materials engineering relative to design and construction. She joins the Tollway near the middle of its 15-year, $14 billion Move Illinois capital program and looks forward to the challenges ahead as she seeks to improve internal and external communication, identify vulnerabilities and evaluate opportunities for innovation.

Back to top

ACI Excellence In Concrete Construction Awards

ACI-IL is calling for concrete construction projects that exemplify their vision of concrete innovation in the 2021 Excellence in Concrete Construction Awards program.

Now more than ever, concrete design and construction projects must integrate creative techniques and technologies to keep up with ever-evolving economic, environmental, and aesthetic demands. The ACI Excellence in Concrete Construction Awards provides a platform to recognize concrete projects at the forefront of innovation and technology, and showcases these projects to inspire excellence in concrete design and construction around the world.

Projects must be within the state of Illinois and can be submitted in seven different categories:

  • Low-Rise Structures (up to three stories): Up to three stories residential (multi-family and houses), school, commercial, warehouse and industrial, etc.
  • Mid-Rise Structures: 4-15 stories
  • High-Rise Structures: more than 15 stories
  • Infrastructure: Bridges, site structures, water resource structures, marine structures, other structures, etc.
  • Repair and Restoration: overlays, rehabilitation, remodel, retrofitting, etc.
  • Decorative Concrete: Decorative or architectural feature or element such as exterior or interior finishes, hardscapes, ornamentation, stained, stamped, or polished concrete, art installations, etc.
  • Flatwork: Pavements, parking lots, runways, commercial/industrial floors, etc.


  • Entry must highlight new construction substantially completed within 36 months of the submission deadline.
  • Entry must highlight innovative use of concrete as a principal construction element.
  • Entry must demonstrate creativity and innovation in the application of concrete technology.
  • A project can only be nominated in one category.
  • A minimum of four to eight photos are required per nomination. Nomination may include a 90-second time lapse video. No animations will be accepted. Concrete and construction should be featured in some of the photos.
  • Entries must be submitted by Wednesday, April 14, 2021.

Contact Joni L. Jones at [email protected] for the application and/or any questions.

Back to top

February Meeting Summary

At the February 25th lunch meeting of the ACI-IL Chapter, President Dan Gancarz hosted the “Big Three” agency partners in an hour long panel Q & A format, virtually of course!  The ACI-IL chapter was pleased to host Sean Guzik, Quality Assurance Manager and Chief Materials Engineer for the City of Chicago Department of Transportation Division of Engineering; Steve Jones, the new Bureau Chief of Materials and Mixture Controls Engineer for Illinois Department of Transportation District 1; and Cindy Williams, Deputy Chief of Program Implementation for the Illinois Tollway.  This was the first time in recent history that ACI-IL hosted an agency panel.  While ACI-IL does have a long history of hosting our agency partners individually at our previous dinner meetings, the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed us to find new ways to interact with our members.  In total, we had 90 participants at the virtual lunch meeting.

Dan Gancarz kicked off the meeting with a fun ice breaker asking the panelists to share a fun fact about themselves.  Did you know Steve Jones from IDOT is a black belt in jiu-jitsu?  Did you know Sean Guzik from CDOT is a dual citizen of the United States and of France?  Bonjour!  Keeping on theme with the global pandemic, Cindy Williams from the Tollway shared a funny anecdote about the pitfalls of wearing a mask while being a 6 foot tall woman; excuse me, Sir?

Each panelist gave a brief update for their agency via slides prior to the Q & A.  Sean Guzik noted that CDOT has moved officed from 30 N. LaSalle to 2 N. LaSalle in late 2020.  Along with their new home, the department has new logos, some personnel changes, and is debuting a new CM & QA database.  CDOT is continuing to implement and experiment with new concrete technologies including the trial use of carbon cure and in-transit slump management software.  CDOT has a $1.4 billion bond plan for infrastructure projects for 2021 – 2022.  The program includes budget allocations for Sidewalks & Pedestrian Right of Way, the Aldermanic Menu, the Bridge and Viaduct Program, Street Resurfacing, Street Lighting, Traffic Signals and the Complete Streets streetscapes program.

An update for IDOT District 1 followed the CDOT agency update.  Steve Jones began his update by noting important personnel changes at District 1 and in Mixture Controls department; it is important to know who to contact for what.  In regard to concrete, IDOT implemented an update on July 1st, 2020 to the concrete haul time BDE special provision.  The maximum haul time of concrete transported in non-agitator trucks was increased from 30 minutes to 45 minutes if a retarding admixture is used or when temperatures are between 50°F and 64°F.  Don’t sound the alarms yet, Engineers!  Smartly, IDOT also revised part of Article 420.07 in the Standards for Road and Bridge Construction for placing PCC Pavement, Shoulders, Base Course or Base Course Widening.  The revised language establishes a 20 minute time allowance to incorporate unloaded concrete into pavement work and eliminates the requirement to use a mechanical concrete spreader.  This update has long been debated and it is exciting to see the compromised outcome finally be ratified.  Additionally, Steve presented updates on PCC patching compressive strength for opening to traffic requirements, expanded options for finely divided minerals, and emphasized the importance of communication for successful concrete projects.  Similarly to CDOT, IDOT District 1 is interested in producers using technology such as Carbon Cure to reduce carbon emissions during concrete production.  And keeping with the expedited move to paperless systems amid the global pandemic, IDOT District 1 is pushing producers to implement e-Ticketing systems.

Cindy Williams from the Illinois Tollway rounded out the agency update presentations with a brief overview from the Illinois Tollway.  The Illinois Tollway has the unique benefit of operating solely on tolls collected within the system and not on taxpayer dollars allocated by the State or Federal Government.  The Tollway is also a unique, closed system of high traffic highways that does not include bicycle or pedestrian pathways.  The Illinois Tollway is in the 10th year of the 15-year $14 billion dollar Move Illinois program.  The Move Illinois program rebuilt the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90), connected I-294 and I-57 with a new interchange, is taking care of existing needs with repairs and rehabilitations, is providing access to O’Hare International Airport via Illinois Route 390 and the I-490 Tollway, and is reconstructing the Central Tri-State Tollway including the Mile Long Bridge, arguably the Tollways crown jewel.  The Tollway continues to rely heavily on engineering consultants and construction contractors to deliver these significant infrastructure improvements.

After the agency updates, Dan Gancarz and Nick Beristain, the ACI-IL Chapter Vice President, moderated the Q & A portion of the meeting.  Participants were able to ask questions via the chat function of the virtual meeting space.  Question topics ranged from COVID impacts to the workplace and construction programs to e-ticketing, Type 1L cement, and performance and generic mix designs.  All the panelists spoke candidly and were well prepared to answer the audience questions.

The virtual lunch meeting was lively, entertaining, and engaging! We truly appreciate the panelists and participants for contributing to a successful meeting.

Back to top

Find us on LinkedIn and Facebook

We hope you’ll join us on LinkedIn:
and Facebook: ACI Illinois Chapter

Back to top

Certification Sponsors

Thank you to our Certification Sponsors!

Certification GOLD Sponsors:

Certification SILVER Sponsors:

Interested in sponsoring?
Contact Pete Stamatopoulos at 630-804-9577.

Back to top