2017 Engineering Excellence Awards

Council Bluffs Interstate System Railroad Relocation Project

HDR Engineering for the Iowa Department of Transportation Winner: Transportation category

Council Bluffs is one of seven principal Midwest railroad gateways. One-fourth of all trains moving between the eastern and western United States pass through it.

Nine main rail lines of five major railroads converge at Council Bluffs. The result is a city divided and a street grid congested by many railroad grade crossings.

In 2004, the Iowa Department of Transportation and the City of Council Bluffs began a $1.04 billion program to modernize and increase the capacity and safety of Interstates 80, 29 and 480 in Council Bluffs. The goal was to reduce the impact of the rail lines those Interstates crossed. Railroads the project affected were approached, and BNSF Railway, Iowa Interstate Railroad and CBEC Railway responded enthusiastically. The Iowa Department of Transportation selected HDR to develop the railroad consolidation plan and assist with the necessary agreements and federal filings.

The consolidation project eliminated nine at-grade roadway/ railroad crossings, improved traffic operations at the South Expressway Interchange and South Expressway, reduced Interstate bridge cost for the South Expressway, eliminated a main line that bisected Lewis Central High School property, improved railroad operations by eliminating switching across streets in Council Bluffs and provided for future rail line capacity expansion. The project delivered the new track corridor two months ahead of schedule and nearly $2 million under the programmed amount.

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