In Bensenville, the Illinois Department of Transportation IDOT will reconstruct the intersection of Irving Park Road and York Road, adding turn lanes, lowering Irving Park Road, raising the rail tracks, and constructing a two-span through girder steel bridge for freight train traffic. Rendering by Christopher B. Burke Engineering, Ltd., and HDR Engineering, Inc., for the Illinois DOT
The Illinois Department of Transportation moves forward with a project to improve the flow of train and vehicle traffic in Chicago, the busiest rail hub in the United States.
March 12, 2013—The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) broke ground recently on a project that will reconfigure an intersection and a grade crossing in Bensenville, Illinois. The rail overpass that will result promises to dramatically improve the flow of traffic through a busy intersection on the edge of Chicago O’Hare International Airport.
The project is part of the Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency (CREATE) program, a public-private partnership involving the U.S. Department of Transportation, the State of Illinois, the City of Chicago, Metra (which operates commuter rail service in the Chicago area), Amtrak, and the nation’s freight railroads. CREATE was formed in 2003 to improve traffic flow and railroad operations in the Chicago metropolitan area, the busiest rail hub in the United States.
The $64-million project in Bensenville is 1 of 25 new grade separations for roads and rail lines that will be constructed under CREATE. The $3.2-billion CREATE program also includes 38 major projects involving freight rail upgrades and 7 separations involving only rail lines.
In Bensenville, the IDOT will reconstruct the intersection of Irving Park Road and York Road. This intersection is in a heavily congested area near a busy crossing of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR). Approximately 37,000 motorists a day travel along Irving Park Road in this area, and 28,000 vehicles per day use York Road. On average, 25 freight trains pass through the area each day.
This heavy train traffic delays approximately 6,400 motorists every day, creating a staggering 1,500 lost hours for commuters each day, according to the IDOT. Improving the intersection has been an IDOT priority for more than a decade.
“With projected traffic increases, operational conflicts with the at-grade CPR crossing would only get worse,” said Serin Keller, P.E., a project manager with the IDOT, in written comments to Civil Engineering online. “This substandard configuration would include increased energy consumption and increased emissions from idling [or] accelerating vehicles as a result of the increased traffic and congestion.”
The DuPage County Division of Transportation oversaw the engineering for the first phase. After considering four alternatives and holding public hearings, it developed a plan to improve the intersection by adding several turn lanes, lowering Irving Park Road, raising the CPR tracks, and constructing a 171 ft, two-span through girder steel bridge for freight train traffic.
“Anyone who is familiar with the Bensenville area knows that this grade crossing is a huge frustration for motorists,” said Governor Pat Quinn in a press release announcing the ground breaking. “We’re eliminating this roadblock to save drivers from thousands of hours stuck in traffic every year, all the while creating jobs and paving the way for more economic growth.”
Under the current configuration, both Irving Park Road and York Road have four lanes, along with a single lane for left turns. The CPR tracks run north-south 70 ft to the east and parallel to York Road.
Once the intersection is reconfigured, Irving Park Road will have four lanes—two in each direction—plus, one the westbound side, a single lane for left turns and a dedicated lane for right turns. York Road will also have two lanes in each direction, plus two lanes for left turns and a dedicated lane for right turns on the northbound side.
The CPR bridge will be constructed on a new alignment approximately 100 ft east of the existing tracks and thus will be closer to the airport. The project also includes drainage improvements, signal modernization, the construction of retaining walls along the raised rail sections, and the relocation of a 72 in. storm sewer.
The project involves several contracts. Embankment work is scheduled to begin this spring. Construction of the bridge is scheduled to begin later this spring, and its completion target is August 29, 2014, according to Keller. The contracts for the intersection improvement portion of the project will be let this summer, the completion target being 2015.
The Chicago office of HDR, Inc., was chosen as the consultant for the design phase and Knight Engineers & Architects, Inc., also of Chicago, has been selected to provide construction engineering for the IDOT.