By RITA DUCKWORTH
Benjamin Bovee, senior structural engineer of Kaskaskia Engineering Group, LLC, is overseeing the Noise Wall design and plan development of the Blue Line Light Rail Project in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn.
The Belleville-based firm’s participation in the project stems from the opening of a St. Paul branch in January 2016.
The project will extend the Blue Line, a route on the existing Metro Transit rail system, heading north and west from downtown Minneapolis.
“The 13-mile route will include 11 new stations,” says Bovee. “KEG has been tasked with designing noise walls.”
A total of five miles of retaining walls will be required, and in some of those areas noise walls will be built on top. “Where there are no retaining walls, we need to consider soil conditions in our design.”
Bovee explains that soil conditions are not optimal in the area designated for this project. This can add additional challenges for the engineering team.
The rail line will go through residential areas where barriers will be needed to prevent people accessing the tracks or the overhead electric lines. Additionally, KEG will assist other consulting firms in designing soldier pile walls and cast-in-place walls along the route. A corridor protection wall is a requirement of BNSF Railway, which has a freight line running parallel to the new construction. The wall will prevent collisions in the event of a derailment on either track.
The total project, encompassing engineering and construction, carries a $1.5-billion price tag combining federal, state, and local funding. Construction is expected to begin in the summer of 2018, and trains should be in service by 2022.
KEG was founded in 2006 by Geri E. Boyer, president, and is 100 percent women-owned. In addition to its most recent Minnesota location, it operates in several cities in Illinois, Missouri and Indiana.