The Illinois Department of Transportation and Federal Railroad Administration partnered to create a USD 1.8 billion high-speed rail system between Chicago, Illinois, and St. Louis, Missouri. Virtually all of the current travel between the cities currently occurs by air or auto, resulting in increased air pollutants and energy usage. The wider project will ultimately involve the improvement of at-grade crossing safety for 22 miles of track and sidings by the Union Pacific Railroad, enabling trains to reach 110 mph. Quigg Engineering was employed to provide environmental studies along 35.24 miles of mainline track, including survey and analysis of historic and cultural resources, water quality, prime and unique farmland, ecologically sensitive resources and endangered species, plus their cumulative impact.
Bentley solutions enabled the team to produce aerial plan sheets for field work, associate the correct Illinois State plan coordinates system with DGN files, attach GIS shape files to correct locations, and identify natural features for the environmental assessment. Aerial photography was used to create a cover type map to demonstrate the spatial relationship between sensitive resources and high-speed rail improvements. Union Pacific Railroad was then able to minimize encroachment into important habitats during works.
Bentley products allowed the project team to identify sensitive environmental resources to National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirements, in a timely manner, allowing the project to proceed on schedule. Referencing file types occurred swiftly and correctly, saving the time and effort of having to manually orient and/or scale to the correct coordinates. Quigg Engineering completed the environmental study in half the usual time, while the results reduced time required identifying harmful impacts, and reviewing potential mitigation.
Geospatial tools within MicroStation and GEOPAK Civil Engineering Suite meant Quigg Engineering could precisely pinpoint where endangered species and their host plants were located along a 200-foot-wide corridor of the rail route. The environmental planning of the high-speed rail route, crossings, and access roads utilizing Bentley tools was critical to the protection of the endangered species and host plants in the vicinity of the rail improvements.