Providing Multi-Modal Access to Starved Rock State Park

Firm: WSP USA Inc

Other Consultants: IDOT District 3, Region 2, Images, Inc., Lin Engineering, Wang Engineering, Gandhi and Associates, Singh & Associates, D Construction, Inc.

Owner:Illinois Department of Transportation

Description:The setting of the Providing Multi-Modal Access to Starved Rock State Park - IL 178 over the Illinois River project is a vibrant community with a rich history. North of the Illinois River sits the Village of North Utica (simply called “Utica” by most locals), through which a devastating tornado came in 2004 that claimed the lives of eight and destroyed many homes and businesses in the center of town. A recovery plan re-energized the village, and it is now a substantial tourism hotspot with many events and festivals throughout the year. Across the river, Starved Rock State Park marks the spot of a legendary battle between rival Native American tribes Ottawa, Potawatomi and Illiniwek that led to a siege where members of the Illiniwek tribe were forced upon a sandstone butte along the river where they were left to starve, inspiring the park’s name. The State of Illinois purchased the park land in 1911; the park was further developed in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps, and now attracts more than 2 million visitors a year with its recreational opportunities. Starved Rock State Park is considered by many to be the “crown jewel” of the state park system.

The bridge that served as a vital link between Utica and the state park was built in 1962 by the Illinois Department of Public Works and Buildings, now the Illinois Department of Transportation (Department); however, its poor condition, narrow width, and lack of adaptability to include bike and pedestrian use led the Department to obtain the services of WSP for Phase I and II studies to determine how to best address the bridge crossing. In keeping with its culture of providing meaningful opportunities for our diverse community, WSP enlisted the help of five DBE firms to assist with public involvement, survey and road design, geotechnical engineering, and lighting.

Among the highlights of the project where WSP and the Department shared success are: Assistance in advising and monitoring the excavation of river pier foundations by explosives, a first for a river crossing on the state highway system. An attractive and functional new structure in a highly visible location that provides additional amenities for locals and tourists alike, which design and construction served as a learning example for the engineering profession. A design that demonstrates benefits to society at large and sustainability principles incorporating non-motorized travel, low energy LED lighting, and minimization of adverse travel during construction.

Addressing complex design issues such as long-span steel plate girder construction, avoiding uplift during cofferdam construction, and temperature control during mass concrete pours. Providing a cost-effective solution that came in under budget and addressed construction setbacks in a way that minimized the effects on users.

Illinois Department of Transportation

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