Washington over Waukegan River Culvert Emergency Replacement

Washington over Waukegan River Culvert Emergency Replacement Project wins APWA – National, Chicago Chapter, and Lake Branch 2018 Public Works Project of the Year – Disaster or Emergency Construction Repair Category

Congratulations to the City of Waukegan and the whole Ciorba Project Team for their well-deserved 2018 APWA Public Works Project of the Year in the Disaster or Emergency Construction/Repair category!  The City, Ciorba Group, and Campanella & Sons were able to work together to quickly reopen the road to traffic despite extreme weather conditions while maintaining public safety.

On September 21st, 2018, the City of Waukegan public works discovered a sinkhole that had opened up along Washington Street near downtown Waukegan. Below the sink hole, 45’ below roadway grade, was a 10’ diameter, 180’ long stone arch constructed in 1904 carrying the Waukegan River. It was discovered that a portion of the arch wall had collapsed causing the sinkhole. Ciorba Group performed an immediate emergency inspection. In addition to the road closure, numerous utilities cross the area of the sinkhole including sanitary, storm sewer, water main, and a vital ATT fiber optic line. After an evaluation with the City and Ciorba Group, it was determined to bring in Campanella and Sons contractors to replace the structure. In the span of 2 months, a monumental effort was undertaken to open cut the stone arch and replace it with a 10’ diameter precast concrete pipe. At the first Monday morning meeting after the start of construction, attendees were met with a sinkhole that drastically grew in size due to rainfall over the weekend. Protecting the large excavation, testing and storing the excavation of the material was the main challenge together with design all elements of the project on the fly.

A 10-foot diameter concrete pipe was determined to be the best option from a combined hydraulic, constructability, and availability perspective. The material was readily available to the contractor and could be delivered to the project site on short notice.  Due to the emergency nature of the project, alternative methods were investigated which could result on cost and time savings. Gabions were utilized as slope protection on the upstream side in lieu of cast in place wingwalls since material could be procured more quickly. Portions of the existing concrete headwalls were also repurposed as much as possible to reduce the length of construction.

Safety was the main-focus throughout the project for not only the residents but also anyone working on the site. Ciorba worked with the City and the contractor to maintain a safe construction site, especially considering the size of the excavation and the proximity to a high-rise building that hosts a retirement community. The condition at the bottom of the ravine and at the slopes of the open excavation were checked continuously and especially after rain events.

Washington Street reopened to traffic on December 7, 2018 with final surface paving and sidewalk installation being completed in the spring. The project cost was around $2.5 Million and was completed in approximately two months.

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