City of Pekin Front Street reconstruction

Project Summary

Front Street in Pekin, Illinois, was a narrow, two-lane road in the city’s busy industrial and agricultural area that runs parallel to the Illinois River and a rail line. An important industrial and economic route, more than 800 trucks hauling grain and commodities would drive on Front Street per day, many waiting in long lines to access the industrial plants along the roadway.

The city of Pekin chose Hanson as the prime design consultant to provide preliminary and final design for the corridor, which included the reconstruction and widening of Distillery Road, Front Street and Fayette Street. Hanson also assisted with securing federal freight funding for the project.

The project involved widening Front Street; replacing the concrete pavement; adding turn and staging lanes; incorporating new curbs, gutters and entrances to businesses; coordinating the installation of a combined sewer overflow (CSO) pipe; and upgrading a railroad crossing to accommodate the CSO. The reconstruction improved traffic flow for the trucks accessing the businesses along the route, reducing waiting times.

Traffic safety improvements and reduced flooding

Hanson’s design included adding or enhancing the entrances to the businesses along Front Street to help trucks enter and maneuver through the facilities more easily and safely. This has offered numerous benefits, such as reduced idling time and decreased fuel consumption. Removing the trucks from Illinois Route 9 has also provided safety benefits, such as a reduced risk of traffic accidents.

This project “tells the story of how Hanson and the city worked together to revamp an important roadway in a busy, industrial area and solve a long-term transportation and infrastructure challenge for Pekin,” said Josie Esker, P.E., S.E., Pekin’s resident and city engineer. 

One of the most significant aspects of this project was raising Front Street to install the CSO pipe to travel under the roadway and a short-line railroad. The CSO project has been a priority for the city for more than 10 years, but it had been unable to reach an agreement with the railroad. The Front Street renovation gave the city and the railroad an opportunity to revisit the improvement and collaborate on the budget, schedule and coordination.

Hanson provided coordination services for the installation of the CSO, which included collaborating with the short-line railroad. Installing the CSO involved raising the roadway to give the pipe adequate coverage, as well as raising the rail line. All of this had to be accomplished without disrupting the railroad or surrounding businesses.

Raising the roadway has the benefit of reducing flooding along the roadway and at the city’s wastewater treatment plant, allowing it to continue operation even when the Illinois River floods and providing a positive economic impact for Pekin’s businesses and community. Hanson considered the floodplain during the design and construction phases of the project, conducting the work in such a way as to avoid negatively affecting it.

“Hanson’s extensive experience working with rail clients helped us immensely as we collaborated with the railroad to raise its rail line, install the CSO pipe and minimize disruptions to the railroad’s operations. This long-awaited improvement will help prevent flooding on the roadway and in surrounding areas,” Esker said.

Sustainable construction

Staging the construction was an additional challenge for the project team. Parts of the roadway needed to be closed to complete the project, so the city worked with nearby businesses to stage the trucks in an adjacent industrial park to keep them off Illinois Route 9. Because the industries and plants in the area operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, construction could not impede their operations.

Hanson and the contractor communicated with the owners whose properties were affected by the construction. Their willingness to share driveway access during construction helped the contractor reduce the time the businesses were inconvenienced by construction.

Hanson and the contractor also chose a sustainable approach for the roadway pavement’s subbase, recycling it and reusing about 75% of it for the new roadway. This reduced the need to order new material.

“This has been a major project on our plate for a long time,” Esker said. “It feels good to drive it … and we’re proud of it. Without this road, these businesses would shut down.

“Hanson was a trusted partner to the city, and their involvement and leadership throughout this project helped us plan, fund and deliver a successful, much-needed roadway and infrastructure improvement to our community.”