Kane County Division of Transportation

Environmental Enhancements on Stearns Road

Kane County, IL

The Stearns Road Corridor is the largest project in the history of Kane County, IL, and a true testament to the use of Best Management Practices that provide long-term environmental benefits. Benesch provided planning, design and corridor construction management for this $148 million, multi-year corridor improvement, which provided a much-needed east-west crossing over the Fox River. It included five miles of new roadway, eight highway bridges, four pedestrian bridges, multiple trail interconnections, three miles of multi-use path and 10,000 LF of storm sewer. The project also triggered the enhancement of the area’s rich, natural resources.

Environmental project elements included: wetlands, threatened and endangered species, Section 4 (f) involvement; community and public involvement; Context Sensitive Solutions, and an Environmental Impact Study. A mitigation plan, allowing water and wetland resources to be enhanced or developed, was also drafted in response to resource and regulatory agency concerns over impacts. In addition, an Environmental Vision Document was also prepared to ensure environmental concessions were made and maintained in perpetuity, protecting critical areas of the ecosystem from development. In total, 90 acres were procured for highway right-of way and 216 acres were procured for green space, including restored savannahs and numerous parcels dedicated to the Forest Preserve. Other environmental successes include:

Water Quality – A 65-acre Wetland Restoration Site was created to ensure stormwater quality during construction and protect an environmentally sensitive creek and watershed. Another 35 acres were purchased to build a new groundwater recharge protection facility. State-of-the-art soil erosion and sediment control were also implemented including dust control watering and silt fencing. Additional elements included temporary pumping basins, sealed storm sewers, and the use of roadside ditches with naturalized plantings instead of storm sewer.

Native Vegetation Improvements – Former and native savannahs were restored by removing broken-down buildings and driveways, clearing through controlled burns, and planting 150 deciduous trees, 350 shrubs and 200 perennials. Visitor centers and permeable pavement driveways were also added.

Endangered Species Protection – Project operations were stopped to allow the River Redhorse fish to spawn. Slippershell mussels were also relocated to secure their safety.

Project highlights

  • 10,000 LF of storm sewer
  • Three detention ponds
  • 216 acres of green space
  • 65-acre wetland restoration site
  • Soil erosion and sediment control
  • Savannah restoration
  • Endangered species protection measures