ATC Enhancements & Pedestrian Bridge at Fox River

Firm: HR Green, Inc

Other Consultants:

Owner: City of Aurora

Description:1) Original or Innovative Application of New or Existing Techniques Integrated Shop Drawings were used for project reviews and construction. This approach and technology were a new step in helping identify potential issues with construction procedures before physically constructing the bridge. The use of this tool throughout the construction phase of the bridge was beneficial as it identified several conflicts which were resolved before they could occur in the field. 2) Future Value to the Engineering Profession and Perception by the Public Construction of the new pedestrian bridge and improvements to the ATC showcase how infrastructure funding can facilitate improvements to mobility and provide the catalyst for future economic and social growth within the City of Aurora. This project encapsulates all three (3) modes of transportation (Vehicular, Pedestrian, and Mass Transit) into one project for the common goal of improving the lives of the people that live and work within the City of Aurora and Northeast Illinois. 3) Social, Economic and Sustainable Design Considerations This project included construction of the pedestrian bridge to connect an abandoned 300 space west side parking lot that wasn’t being used due to relocation of the City’s police station. Revived use of the parking lot has enabled residents to easily access east side amenities including RiverEdge park and the Aurora Train Station, which provides METRA access to downtown Chicago for the residents of Aurora and nearby regions.

As part of the improvements to the ATC facility, new charging stations were installed to allow for charging of electric vehicles. The installation of these terminals will be paramount as the number of electric vehicles increase. During bridge construction, a temporary access causeway was utilized to construct the piers in the Fox River and for the bridge. After access to the piers and bridge was no longer required, the aggregate material utilized for the temporary causeway was incorporated into the existing riverbanks which will help protect the Fox River from future flooding events. Additionally, new LED lighting was incorporated in the bridge as well in the ATC to improve overall safety. 4) Complexity The ATC improvements and construction of the pedestrian bridge were two separate projects combined into one.

Relocating the ATC Pace Bus pick-up/drop-off areas was a multi-staged Process that required a significant amount of communication with Pace & Metra. The ATC used to be Aurora’s railroad hub. When undertaking underground installation at the transportation center, it was important that the soils were managed appropriately due to soil contamination from many years of railroad waste. There was also the chance that abandoned and buried foundations from old structures would be in conflict with the proposed improvements.

There were multiple connecting parts to this project that made it very unique and sometimes challenging. The first step was to develop a way to construct the bridge that provided access to the Fox River to build it. There were forty-six (46) culverts of varying sizes that needed to be installed to maintain the flow of the river. The substructure for the pedestrian bridge was distinctive because it was composed of drilled shafts with diameters ranging from 6.5 ft. to 8 ft. that were embedded 19 ft. into the river’s bedrock.

A temporary bridge was required to successfully build the pedestrian bridge. The temporary bridge system was an elaborate and stable falsework support system which enabled a multi-tier formwork system to be installed when the actual bridge was constructed.

Constructing the bridge in a particular pour sequence proved difficult. It was a cast-in-place hollow box girder structure, and it was important that all of the reinforcement was installed in the correct areas. Since the bridge deck had a vertical curve, there were multiple checklists to ensure that all of the partially embedded reinforcement was installed. Many pour sequences were required to gain proper reinforcement for completely embedded, and even partially embedded, rebar.

The structure itself is unique, and the inclusion of an integrated and elaborate lighting system makes the bridge stand out even more. There are color-changing LED tape lights located at the top of the box girder that run the entire length of the bridge and beneath the bridge that illuminate the box girder and its architectural grooved finish. These lights are programmed using a single controller, even though each light system (upper box girder lights and under bridge lights) comes from different manufacturers. The railing system also has soft white LED lights angled towards the bridge deck, so pedestrians have good visibility. The entire bridge lighting system was designed so that the RiverEdge Park venue can integrate its outdoor amphitheater lights with the bridge lights. 5) Exceeding Owner Needs The City of Aurora is very pleased with the east parking lot improvements, which resulted in better vehicle circulation, improved location of the Pace PulsePoint area, and brighter ornamental lighting. The centrally located signalized driveway to the parking lot provides better access to the train station. On June 11, 2021, the City celebrated the opening of the pedestrian bridge that now links the west side parking lot to the transportation center. The bridge provides a safe crossing and allows pedestrians and cyclists to utilize both riverbanks paths easily. RiverEdge Park has new access for those residents living on the west side. The enhancements have been positively received by commuters, pedestrians, and bicyclists. The City is very excited about the interest in new downtown development plans to take advantage of the project improvements.

City of Aurora