The Damen, Elston and Fullerton intersection was one of the most heavily congested, high-level accident locations in the City of Chicago. To find a solution to relieve this congestion and improve intersection performance, an Intersection Improvement Evaluation Report was completed prior to Benesch’s involvement on the project. This study concluded that an underpass carrying through traffic in both directions on Fullerton was the recommended alternative for further development. The City then selected Benesch to proceed with the next phase of the project.
Benesch completed a Phase I report to evaluate the identified alternative in the Intersection Improvement Evaluation Report, as well as provide final design plans for the project. Because area development plans had changed since completion of the underpass study, Benesch began the project by conducting a value planning exercise in conjunction with the City to evaluate the recommended underpass option. The exercise resulted in the development of several additional options that could eliminate the need for the tunnel, which was a costly and disruptive solution. Instead of the originally planned underpass solution, Benesch proposed and implemented an at-grade re-route of two legs of the intersection that essentially created three traditional intersections. The selected alternative was less costly than the underpass solution, reducing traffic delays (combined Level of Service F improved with three intersections at a Level of Service C).
The project included three traffic signals and fiber optic interconnect, protected bike lanes, pedestrian accommodations and redevelopment of the abandoned section of Elston Avenue. The project also required new watermain and combined sewers throughout the project limits.
Not only is this project located in a dense, highly-traveled urban corridor, but there were many stakeholders which had to be considered throughout the duration of the project as well. A public hearing on the project attracted a large turnout of stakeholders, with a request to add bike lanes to Damen Avenue. The project is a true success story in stakeholder coordination and the project was ultimately well accepted by the local community.