Three Benesch Projects Honored by ACEC Illinois, Weber Road Named Lincoln Grand Conceptor

Awards, Projects | February 23, 2024


photo of the Benesch team that worked on the Weber Road Diverging Diamond Interchange project at the ACEC IL gala, holding the Lincoln Grand Conceptor award

ILLINOIS—Three highly complex bridge projects received Honor Awards from the American Council of Engineering Companies of Illinois last night in recognition of their transformative safety and mobility improvements.

  • In Chicago, the new 43rd Street Pedestrian Bridge reconnects a southside neighborhood to vast cultural and natural resources along the city’s shoreline.
  • The removal and replacement of two of the longest structures on the Illinois Tollway system increases vehicle capacity across the Mile Long Bridge.
  • A new Diverging Diamond Interchange (DDI) in Will County addresses major capacity issues at Weber Road and I-55. The project was named Lincoln Grand Conceptor for 2024.

Benesch provided construction management services on each of these projects. Learn more about them below.

Weber Road & I-55 Diverging Diamond Interchange – Lincoln Grand Conceptor

The Weber Road and I-55 project transformed an existing overpass into an innovative Diverging Diamond Interchange (DDI). The rapidly growing county saw its population double from 1990 to 2010, and so an innovative design solution was needed to address surging traffic and safety concerns at the interchange, as well as anticipated growth in the area.

“To transition the traffic pattern from a conventional diamond interchange to a DDI, we implemented complex maintenance of traffic staging to keep traffic flowing properly during construction,” said Benesch Project Manager Dave Cuthbertson, PE. “We put an intensive detour plan into place during a nine-day period with restricted left turn movements onto all ramps while the permanent signal foundations were constructed and the signal equipment was installed.”

Initially met with skepticism from the public and stakeholders, the DDI quickly gained public acceptance for its success in improving safety and efficiency. Today, the interchange experiences minimal congestion, enhanced pedestrian and bike mobility, minimized emissions and substantially less crashes.

“Successfully constructing this new interchange was truly a collaborative effort—not just between Benesch and the contractor, but the client—the Illinois Department of Transportation—numerous local agencies, the design team and so many others,” remarked Benesch Construction Group Manager Dan Gross. “Receiving the Lincoln Grand Conceptor award for this innovative project is something that we all can be proud of.”

aerial view of the new diverging diamond interchange carrying Weber Road over Will County in Illinois.
The new Diverging Diamond Interchange carries traffic on Weber Road over I-55 in Will County, the fasted growing county in Illinois.
43rd Street Pedestrian Bridge – Honor Award

The 43rd Street Pedestrian Bridge in Chicago spans 1,500 feet, crossing over six busy railroad tracks and the iconic Lake Shore Drive. The existing outdated structure was non-ADA compliant and sorely in need of replacement. The new bridge—a signature structure comprised of visually striking asymmetrical inclined arches—is easily accessible to pedestrians, cyclists, wheelchair users and other people with disabilities.

Constructing the bridge over the railroad tracks and highway presented a significant challenge that was further complicated by the need to protect the overhead powered catenary lines of the Metra Electric Line that operates below. To minimize inconvenience to commuters and eliminate several construction constraints, the project team devised a temporary bridge while the replacement was constructed. This approach not only saved substantial time but also mitigated significant project costs that would have otherwise been incurred from extended closures and the deployment of railroad flaggers.

“The temporary bridge was constructed to not only support construction, but also to serve as a protective shield and safer working environment over the Metra Electric Line and reduce the need for disruptive track closures,” said Benesch Project Manager Andrew Mey, PE.

Despite additional challenges due to material shortages in the wake of a global pandemic, the project team worked together to successfully deliver the completed bridge on a revised timeline while being mindful of budget constraints. The resulting structure will not only stimulate economic and recreational growth in the area, but has improved overall safety and pedestrian mobility for decades to come.

Aerial view of the new 43rd Street pedestrian bridge under construction, spanning Lakeshore drive and several railroad lines. The bridge is a blue asymmetrical arch bridge
The new 43rd Street pedestrian brings a much needed fully ADA-compliant connection for pedestrians on Chicago’s south side to a multitude of lakefront pathways, parks and other natural resources.
I-294 Mile-Long Bridge Reconstruction – Honor Award

The Mile Long Bridge is a crucial segment of the 22.5-mile Central Tri-State Tollway (I-294), originally constructed in 1958 to provide a route bypassing Chicago and linking Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin. The bridge carries more than 150,000 vehicles each day over two major railroads, three water resources, several local roads and major UPS and BNSF distribution centers. The project involved the construction of two new, wider bridge structures, as well as stormwater, drainage and related infrastructure improvements.

Benesch was a subconsultant to Bowman Consulting for this project. Benesch staff oversaw complex construction operations and served as a liaison between the contractor and Illinois Tollway. The team also helped facilitate coordination with railroads, four municipalities and various utilities that required relocation or protection throughout the corridor.

“This project required an incredible amount of collaboration with the contractor to ensure work was constructed in accordance with the contract documents,” said Assistant Resident Engineer Tommy Carrato, PE, of Benesch. “Our team coordinated review of hundreds of submittals ranging from beam erection and demolition procedures to shop drawings for both temporary works and permanent elements of the structures.”

The project team delivered a cost-effective solution that alleviates congestion and meets the long-term needs of the Tollway. The Mile Long Bridge reconstruction is part of the larger, $4 billion Central Tri-State improvement project for which Benesch provided construction observation, material testing, inspection, and survey verification.

Construction view of the Mile Long Bridge spans being set over a waterway as traffic continues on the structure alongside it.
The Mile Long Bridge crosses two major railroads, three water resources, several local roads and major UPS and BNSF distribution centers.