Chicago Department of Transportation

130th Street & Torrence Avenue Grade Separation

Chicago, IL

This project transformed one of Chicago’s most congested intersections into a sophisticated, multi-tiered grade separation featuring depressed, realigned and widened roadways with six new bridges. Benesch was a key partner to the City of Chicago for the life of the project, leading preliminary and final engineering design as well as serving as construction manager.

The Phase I study included the preparation of the Wetland Delineation Report, Design Report, ECAD, and Location Drainage Study for the project. It also required extensive coordination with IDOT, Ford Motor Company, City of Chicago Bureaus, private utility companies, NS, NICTD and CSS&SB, ICC, the local alderman’s office, and local neighborhood groups and businesses. During this phase of the project, Benesch led several Value Engineering and Planning studies to assess several alternatives for the design and construction of the grade separation’s civil and structural elements.

A three-tiered grade separation of railroad and vehicular traffic was the preferred solution, as it required minimal disruption to Norfolk Southern (NS) rail traffic, maintained CSS&SB/NICTD commuter services and access to Ford and the industrial area, and created minimal ROW impacts to the residential area.

The final design includes six new bridges: three railroad, two pedestrian and one highway, as well as the realignment of East 130th Street, South Torrence Avenue and South Brainard Avenue to form one intersection. The three realigned roadways were depressed, allowing them to cross under the new NS railroad bridges and over the widened Torrence Avenue.

As part of the project, a 394-foot-long, double track ballasted truss span was constructed off-site and rolled into place over a weekend, requiring an eight-hour shut down of the Norfolk Southern Railroad. This element of the project was the result of one of the design team’s many VE studies early in the project. The final design and construction schedule for the truss bridge produced more than $600,000 in savings while eliminating six months of construction through Accelerated Bridge Construction (ABC) techniques.

Other project elements include the design and construction of approximately 8,000 linear feet of retaining wall, extensive utility relocation, a new drainage system (including a detention chamber, pump station, force main, settling basin) and the design and installation of a 96-inch relief sewer. Assistance was also given to the City of Chicago during ROW acquisition.

Project highlights

  • Value Engineering services to identify time and cost saving design and construction measures
  • Largest truss railroad bridge to be “rolled” into place via Self-Propelled Modular Transporters at the time of its construction
  • Multi-modal grade separation with complex Maintenance of Traffic to keep rail and commercial traffic in service at all times
  • Increased safety and accessibility via two new pedestrian bridges
  • Four time award winner with American Council of Engineering Companies (Illinois and National)
  • National Council of Structural Engineers Association and Roads & Bridges Magazine