Bridging the gap: The Galesburg grade separations
In 2000, the city of Galesburg, Illinois, began laying the groundwork for a plan to address the traffic and noise issues saddling the community, caused by multiple railroad crossings on the busy Chillicothe and Mendota rail subdivisions. After studying multiple options, including relocating tracks outside of the city, Galesburg determined that the most cost-effective and better environmental solution would be grade separations at three crossings — the Donald L. Moffitt Overpass on West Main Street, completed in 2012; the Bickerdyke Bridge at North Seminary Street and Kellogg Street, which opened in 2014; and the Rev. Jon A. Sibley Sr. Underpass, unveiled in 2018.
Galesburg is home to six BNSF Railway Co. rail subdivisions. Main Street and Seminary are main arterial routes in Galesburg, and 100 trains per day used the West Main and Seminary crossings, traveling at 30 mph; vehicles averaged 4-5 minutes of wait time per train. The West Main tracks divided the residential northeast side of the city from the downtown business district and two of the local hospitals from the ambulance service.
"We choose to work with Hanson because they are very knowledgeable and efficient. Very interested in the City having a successful project both in the short term and long term." — Wayne Carl, City of Galesburg
Hanson provided project development, construction plan preparation and construction engineering services to the city of Galesburg for new grade-separation structures on West Main Street, Seminary Street and East Main Street.
Because of the complexity of the East Main underpass project and the short windows of time allowed to have the railroad out of service, Hanson and the city reached out to railroad contractors to make them aware of the project going out to bid. Railroad contractor Lunda Construction used its experience working with railroads to keep the project on schedule and achieve the 48-hour and 62-hour allowed shutdowns. These tight time frames are not typical for an Illinois Department of Transportation project, and they required close coordination with BNSF to minimize track closures as much as possible, leaving at least one track open at all times.
Public involvement was a high priority during the project’s planning stages. Hanson and the city employed the context sensitive solutions approach to involve all stakeholders, including residents, in the decision-making process. The project team sought public opinion during all stages of the project, seeking input regarding aesthetics, landscaping and land acquisition.
Hanson also designed a stormwater lift station for the East Main underpass that prevents surcharging in the city’s existing storm sewer system via a jockey pump and two large stormwater pumps that balance water flow.