The Union Pacific-West Line carries 59 Metra commuter trains and more than 50 freight trains per day between Chicago and the city’s western suburbs. Improvements along the corridor between the Vale Interlocking in River Forest, IL, and the Peck Interlocking in Geneva, IL, were necessary in order to enhance train operations in the corridor.
This project creates a much-needed third mainline track spanning nearly eight miles over two project segments. It also provides infrastructure improvements at three existing Metra stations, numerous at-grade crossings, and bridges crossing the Fox River, Des Plaines River and Illinois Route 31.
Several regulatory considerations and project challenges existed along the corridor, including the need to avoid public lands and environmentally sensitive areas; implementation of an effective public outreach and coordination program; extensive right-of-way acquisition; permitting; roadway and traffic design; construction across waterways; and station access.
As the prime design consultant, Benesch oversaw all track, structural, and civil design efforts and coordination with Metra’s Phase I consultant. Because this was an expansion project, it was critical to address right-of-way acquisition needs early in the project design. The team accelerated survey and preliminary track alignment design so that an analysis could be performed to understand potential design alternatives, impacts, costs and benefits based on the proposed location of the new track within the corridor. Developing this information early aided decision making on multiple critical path items including: development of the Phase I Environmental document (prepared by Metra’s consultant), environmental permitting and the land acquisition processes. Benesch also supported railroad outreach efforts within impacted communities along the corridor, allowing for municipal buy-in to the project and facilitating effective coordination for the relocation of municipal facilities.