Unique Challenges | Massive Earthwork in Kane County

A project as interesting and multifaceted as The Longmeadow Parkway New Alignment Roadway and Reconstruction Project doles out equally interesting and multifaceted challenges. This project on which Civiltech provided Construction Engineering services is a 1.2 mile continuation of Longmeadow Parkway as part of a new east-west corridor which begins west of Randall Road, travels east with new roadway all the way to the connection with IL 62, including crossing the Fox River with a new bridge.

Preparation, More Preparation, and Hauling Dirt

Constructing the new section of roadway included a sizable 110-foot elevation change from a bluff down to an elevation along IL 31. This required cutting through a large hill and moving dirt–lots and lots of dirt. Before all of that earth could be moved in preparation of the new roadway, a haul road had to be created-and before that haul road could be created, a dozen acres of trees had to be cleared.

Once the haul road was in place, the thrum of a steady procession of trucks began. The dirt hauling comprised much of the work activity for a substantial part of the project schedule with 800,000 CY of dirt moved to the nearby Raging Buffalo Snowboard Ski Park. Civiltech’s Resident Engineers stated that Plote Construction, the general contractor, ran an impressive operation using GPS technology to set their grades.

The ongoing theme of challenging dirt hauling touched other areas of the project. A farm adjacent to the project site provides quarantine for livestock that come into O’Hare International Airport and some of its farmland was part of the excavation. Hazardous waste located on the farmland had to be treated and hauled to specific waste facilities. The local facility targeted to receive the waste had a restriction on the quantity of daily loads it would accept. However, the excavation and hauling had to be timed and coordinated with the farm’s schedule of receiving livestock. As a result extra loads had to be hauled long distance to a facility in Detroit.

Multiple Components under One Contract

While the quantity of dirt moved, as well as the creative solutions and coordination it required, was a unique aspect of this project, many other types of work were included under the contract. In addition to constructing 2+ miles of roadway on Longmeadow and IL 31, the project required extensive structural work including a new bridge over IL 31 with MSE walls, 4 CIP box culverts, and decorative retaining walls. All of the retaining walls on the project were made to look as if they were built from natural stone. This is achieved by using stone imprints on the forms for the concrete and then carefully staining each faux stone with its own color. Careful coordination of structural contractor Dunnet Bay’s staging needs was critical as it could have a domino effect on the staging of other work or even the entire process. Also, with extensive utility relocations needed, our Resident Engineers had to work carefully with the utility companies to minimize project delays resulting from the utility work. And of course, with a project of this size and impact, our R.E.’s actively coordinated and communicated with stakeholders, regulatory agencies, adjacent projects, and the general public.

The final push to complete this massive project was then complicated by the COVID pandemic. All of the crews on the project found ways to adapt their daily work activities to ensure that new safety protocols were closely followed. They found innovative ways to achieve contactless transfer of critical paperwork including newly adapted electronic transfers that had not been possible before.

Flexibility and Creativity

With this project’s many moving parts and players, Civiltech’s Resident Engineers’ primary challenge was ensuring that they were coordinated and ready for the next day’s work, as well as being able to adjust on the fly. Through careful and systematic management and, maybe more importantly, flexibility and creativity, our Resident Engineers and Inspectors from Civiltech, Midland Standard Engineering and Testing, and Primera, ensured successful outcomes on this complicated project.