Bensenville Ditch


Chicago Department of Aviation


Chicago, Illinois

Construction Cost

$6.6 Billion (Total Project)

Key Staff

Ross Anderson, PE
Brad McMullen, PE
James Outlaw

As part of the O'Hare Modernization Program, the existing Bensenville Ditch was relocated in order to proceed with the construction of the proposed 10C-28C-West Runway. Part of the relocated ditch alignment crossed two Union Pacific Railroad tracks. The realigned ditch was carried beneath the railroad by tunneling four 12-foot diameter reinforced concrete pipes that are spaced 20 feet apart, while maintaining railroad traffic. The railroad embankment was retained by utilizing anchored sheet pile walls.

The tunneling Contractor was able to successfully tunnel the pipes with only a 6-foot clearance between the pipes. Also, the earth cover above the tunneled concrete pipe was 7’-0”, and because of this shallow distance, settlement of the railroad track was investigated. It was determined settlements should reach approximately 3-inches maximum. During construction, observed settlements did not exceed this limit. Jacking wall consisted of a braced sheet pile retaining wall during excavation and was reconfigured into a cantilever wall for jacking operations. 

The pipe receiving and jacking pits for the installation of the pipes were incorporated into the realigned ditch excavation