Chicago to St. Louis High Speed Rail

CLIENT Union Pacific Rail Road

Location Chicago, IL to St. Louis, MO

Shannon & Wilson performed geotechnical engineering services for the eight tiers of the 200-plus-mile project to upgrade the existing UPRR Class 4 track to Class 6 for the High-Speed Rail Expansion between Joliet, Illinois, and St. Louis, Missouri. 

The project expands existing sidings, constructs new sidings, expands or replaces more than 35 bridges, constructs new double track areas, and extends or replaces existing culverts. The scope of services included subsurface explorations, field and laboratory testing, engineering analysis, and design recommendations for new embankments, proposed cuts, retaining walls, bridge foundations, and construction recommendations.  

Shannon & Wilson collected pertinent design data necessary to resolve and verify project construction parameters and constraints. Included were over 700 explorations (soil borings or test pits) at ¼-mile intervals, culvert replacements, and major structures (bridges and retaining walls); analyses; and recommendations addressing general railroad design issues including, but not limited to:

  • Existing soil and groundwater conditions
  • Minimum gradients to facilitate drainage within railroad ditches
  • Sub-excavation required to remove unstable subgrade conditions
  • Benching of new fill into existing slops
  • Sub-excavation and stabilization recommendations at culvert locations
  • Compaction recommendations for fill
  • Recommended safe embankment foreslopes and cut backslopes
  • Stability analysis results supporting recommended cut and fill slopes, and track sections

Upon completion of our geotechnical investigations, Shannon & Wilson produced individual geotechnical reports for each tier of the project. Reports included: a site map; boring location plan; laboratory test results; results of our stability analysis, recommendations for bridge foundations, cut slopes, embankment slopes; ballast and sub-ballast thicknesses, and culverts, and construction recommendations. Design criteria included American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association (AREMA) Standards.


Thomas Abkemeier
Vice President, Saint Louis Office Manager

Craig Brooks
Laboratory Manager

James Dutt

Mark Wieners
Senior Geologist

James Zschau
Senior Geologist

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