Western Springs Underpass

CATEGORY: Structural Systems


ENTERING FIRM: A. Epstein and Sons International


OTHER CONSULTANTS: Illinois Tollway, BNSF Railway, Peralte-Clark, Inc., Mott MacDonald, Bowman Consulting, Christopher B. Burke Engineering, Ltd.


OWNER: Village of Western Springs


DESCRIPTION: The Village of Western Springs (Village) is bisected by the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) triple train track with limited street crossings to connect the north and south sides of the Village. The project location is just west of the Western Springs Metra Station where the popular Spring Rock Park with sports fields and courts sits on the south side of the tracks, and a park district pool is on the north side. The boundaries for Laidlaw Elementary School include homes on both sides of the tracks. Metra passengers, school children and residents were faced with crossing three tracks at grade which included climbing stairs or ramp up to the tracks, crossing and going back down. This crossing saw heavy pedestrian traffic as it was just west of the Metra station, and heavy passenger train and freight traffic. On an average weekday, 149 trains operate through the area, which includes freight traffic of approximately 52 trains per day. These issues required a new solution to provide a safer means for pedestrians and passengers to cross the tracks. At this location, the tracks are on embankment 15’ above roadway elevation. At the start of Epstein’s involvement, Western Springs completed a Phase I study that determined the location of the crossing. They were in need of a consultant to study the crossing alternatives including a railroad bridge or a tunnel, update the Phase I, and prepare detailed plans. The Illinois Tollway agreed to provide the study and detailed plans in exchange for needed property as part of the Central Tri-State project. The Illinois Tollway utilized Epstein’s active Design Upon Request contract to complete the work. Epstein’s engineers orchestrated complex coordination between the Illinois Tollway, Village of Western Springs, Western Springs Park District, BNSF, ComEd, and utilities to deliver this new, safe pedestrian passageway. Our team evaluated grade separation options that balanced BNSF’s desire to construct without removing track from service for extended durations and the Village’s desire to have an open air feel. The design solution chosen was a single span bridge with adjacent precast concrete box beams supported on precast abutment caps and steel H-Piles. The embankment below the bridge was excavated and replaced with a soldier pile wall beneath the bridge. Epstein was responsible for the railroad bridge and lighting while subconsultants designed the solder pile wall, sidewalk, curb and gutter, and CCTV. The railroad bridge is in accordance with BNSF standards and was reviewed and approved by BNSF.