Downer Place Bridge Replacement Over the Fox River


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  • Bridges + Structures
  • Construction
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  • Auora, Illinois

One of the highlights of the Downer Place bridge replacement is the historical significance of the existing bridges (Illinois Historic Bridge Survey), historic district (Stolp Island listed on the National Register of Historic Places), and adjacent historic buildings (National Register of Historic Places). The original bridges were three-span-filled spandrel arches constructed in 1909 of cast-in-place concrete and were a safety concern. The filled spandrel bridges could not be replaced “in kind” for a number of reasons, but historic preservation criteria mandated the completed appearance be similar to the original construction including arches, concrete railing, outlooks attached to each pier, and lighting.

To replicate a historic appearance with modern techniques, the new bridges include three spans of precast, prestressed concrete deck beams, precast concrete fascia in the shape of the original arches, precast concrete outlooks at each pier (also in the shape of the original outlooks) and precast concrete railing. Period lighting (again based on archive photographs) was included.  The original piers and abutments were removed to the waterline and reconstructed with cast-in-place concrete to the bearing elevations for the precast concrete elements.

HR Green was responsible for the Phase I / II / III engineering for the reconstruction. During Phase I, HR Green coordinated with a number of State of Illinois and federal agencies to receive environmental, historic, and preliminary design approvals. These approvals included the Project Development Report, Bridge Condition Report, and Section 106/4(f) Report.  HR Green also participated in community meetings where public and business owner input was solicited.

During Phase II, HR Green was responsible for the preparation of contract plans and specifications for the proposed work to reconstruct the two historic bridges, resurface pavement within the project limits, and install a new lighting system on the bridges. Coordination with utilities, the existing riverwalk system, and adjacent buildings was included as well.

Phase III construction services on the $6.8 million, federally funded project were also led by HR Green. The Downer Place bridge replacements are separated by an island and are at the center of the City’s downtown historic business district. The project included traffic control, utility coordination, and relocation, public involvement, streetscaping, storm sewer, parking modifications, traffic signal interconnects patching, and resurfacing.

While the schedule and anticipated costs for this high-profile project caused initial concerns among City officials and business owners, the use of precast concrete architectural and structural elements and dry weather, allowed the Contractor to meet an aggressive, one-year construction schedule. The revitalized community amenity has reaffirmed Aurora’s proud heritage as the City of Lights while maintaining the essence of the historic Stolp Island District.


ACEC Illinois – Merit Award

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