The UP-West line carries 59 Metra commuter trains and more than 70 freight trains per day from downtown Chicago to the city’s western suburbs. Improvements along the line between the Vale Interlocking to Elburn were necessary in order to improve Metra’s operations.
The UP-West 3rd Mainline project establishes a much needed third track spanning nearly eight miles while providing for additional infrastructure improvements to three existing Metra stations, various at-grade crossings and bridges crossing the Fox River, Des Plaines River and Route 31.
A diverse range of project challenges existed along the corridor, from implementing effective public outreach with the several impacted municipalities along the line, to extensive right-of-way acquisition, permitting, roadway and traffic design, construction over waterways, station access and project staging.
As the prime consultant for a multi-disciplined project team, Benesch oversaw all coordination and design efforts of the project, while leading the structural, track and civil design efforts. Given that this was an expansion project, a critical issue to address early in the project design included right-of-way acquisition needs. The team accelerated survey and preliminary track alignment design so that an analysis could be performed comparing the costs and benefits of land acquisition versus construction of retaining walls. Developing this information in the earliest phases of the projects provides information for environmental permitting and land acquisition—both critical path activities. Benesch also led early outreach efforts within the communities of the impacted stations along the corridor, allowing for upfront planning of facilities including station parking and addressing passenger access concerns during construction.