Lawrence M. Walsh
At the February meeting of the Will County Board, longtime employee Jeff Ronaldson was named Director of Transportation, replacing Bruce Gould who retired after 40 years of service to the county.
Ronaldson has spent his entire career with the Will County Division of Transportation, joining the county upon graduation from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana in June 1997. Ronaldson worked directly under Gould for more than 19 years where he learned firsthand how to manage the county’s growing highway department.
“Jeff is an excellent choice to assume this position,” said Will County Executive Larry Walsh. “With nearly 20 years of on the job training, Jeff is well prepared to lead this department as we address our transportation needs now and into the future.”
Currently, the Division of Transportation is completing work on Will Connects 2040 long range transportation plan which addresses all modes of transportation in the county including roads, all forms of public transportation, bicycle and pedestrian issues, aviation, and freight movement. Significant future projects include the future widening of I-55 and I-80, construction of the Houbolt Road Bridge, and numerous other county road improvements. The county is also actively working with public and private stakeholders to complete a Community Friendly Freight Mobility Study that has the primary goal of mitigating the negative impacts of increased truck traffic on regional roadways while balancing future development progress and quality of life issues.
“I have been privileged to work alongside Jeff on many projects throughout Will County,” said County Board Speaker Jim Moustis. “He not only brings the engineering expertise, he is first class when working with the County Board and our residents.”
“Jeff is a very capable and knowledgeable engineer,” said Don Gould, chairman of the Public Works and Transportation Committee. “He has proven to be a resourceful professional to the township highway commissioners and local transportation officials.”
In January 2014, the highway department became the Will County Division of Transportation in accordance with Illinois state statutes. Bruce Gould, who had led the department for nine years as the County Engineer, then became the county’s first Director of Transportation. He said he is proud Ronaldson was chosen as his successor.
“I interviewed and hired Jeff right out of college,” Gould said. “He has had a front row seat learning how to lead this department and create a vision for the future.”
Over the last 20 years, the county has increased its lane mileage from 567 to 620. And the amount of truck traffic has also increased exponentially during the last 10 years with the addition of two intermodal facilities. Record population growth within the county during this time has also increased the burden on country roadways.
“I have witnessed numerous changes during my career with Will County,” Ronaldson said. “It has been a challenge to ensure our roadways can keep up with this unprecedented growth. I am fortunate to have learned a lot from Bruce and former County Engineer Sheldon Latz during my career.”
Gould said of all the county transportation plans over the past 40 years, the Build Will program is one of which he is most proud.
“Build Will is the most comprehensive transportation plan in our county’s history,” he said. “Weber Road and I-55 interchange will be the single, largest project the county has ever undertaken. When it is completed, it will have a lasting impact on the landscape of transportation in Will County.”
“I am privileged to continue the work of Bruce and Sheldon as the next Transportation Director,” Ronaldson said. “Will County is anticipated to exceed 1 million people in the next 10 years and it will be a privilege to work with our county, state, and local agency partners to manage the needs of the County’s infrastructure.”