SOUTH ELGIN, IL – The long-awaited link between the Fox River Trail and Illinois Prairie Pass has been restored with the help of Benesch’s construction management services. Kane County Forest Preserve’s trail in South Elgin, Illinois now runs beneath the Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) tracks and enhances the pedestrian and bicycle network.
By separating the underpass from Poplar Creek, the tunnel is far less prone to damage and provides a safe solution with lower long-term costs. To do this, the project team had to face several environmental and rail-related challenges. Running parallel to Poplar Creek and the Fox River, the trial’s proximity to two floodplains required extra care to be taken during construction.
“To protect the environmentally sensitive area, it was vital that we proactively worked with the contractor to prevent runoff and sediment from leaving the site. We also took the time to ensure proper protection methods were in place and installed correctly throughout construction,” said Resident Project Engineer Patrick Sullivan.
Construction of the tunnel also required careful coordination with UPRR to ensure freight traffic wasn’t interrupted. During construction, the track began settling beyond the railroad’s tolerance. The project team developed and executed a plan to stabilize the embankment and install a temporary soil retention system. With the unanticipated settlement issue resolved, construction resumed.
The project was designed by WBK Engineering and opened to the public in May of 2021. As a testament to the project’s success and positive impact on the community, it was named the Engineering Excellence Special Achievement Award winner for the special projects category by the American Council of Engineering Companies of Illinois (ACEC-IL). The public were equally as impressed with the project.
“The community has been waiting almost a decade for this trail connection and were really invested in its progress. Community members would often walk by and ask when the project would be complete in hopes to be one of the first to walk/bike through,” said Sullivan. “Now that it is open, it’ great to see people out enjoying the trail they have been so excited for.”