Bee Branch Railroad Culverts

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Pedestrian Tunnels Grand Opening

Friday, June 24, at 4:30 p.m.

A short ceremony will be held on Friday, June 24, at 4:30 p.m. to celebrate the grand opening of the Bee Branch Creek pedestrian tunnels. The event will be held on the new overlook south of the railroad tracks above the tunnels.

Following the ceremony, Mayor Cavanagh will lead a bike ride on the new trail connection through the tunnel to E. 22nd St. for the 7th Annual Sustainability Fair being held at the Bee Branch Creek Greenway from 5 - 7 p.m. The public is encouraged to bring their bikes and ride along.

Completed in 2021

The Railroad Culverts Project was a critical phase of the larger Bee Branch Watershed Flood Mitigation Project. The improvements, completed in 2021, increased the flood mitigation system’s capacity to protect the area from a 75-year rain event to a 500-year rain event. 

The railroad culverts project involved using micro-tunneling methods to install six, 8-foot diameter culverts under the Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) tracks along Garfield Ave. This allows stormwater to drain more efficiently from the Upper Bee Branch Creek to the Lower Bee Branch Creek and 16th St. Detention Basin.

When the City sought public input on the design of the Bee Branch Creek improvements, residents voiced a desire for pedestrian passage under the railroad tracks. The City assumed ownership of the two existing Bee Branch box culverts and now utilizes them for both flood control and as pedestrian tunnels under the railroad tracks when creek levels permit. This created a direct connection of the trail systems associated with the lower and upper sections of the Bee Branch Creek.

Construction in 2020

The micro-tunneling operation began in July 2020 and was finished in late October 2020. The tunneling for each pipe began on the east side of the railroad tracks and progressed approximately 40 feet per day toward the receiving pit located on the west (Garfield Ave.) side of the project. As the micro-tunneling machine inched its way through the soil, 20-foot long sections of pipe were inserted behind it. On average, it took approximately one week to install each 200-foot long pipe.

Each pipe required considerable prep work including cutting the holes through the sheet pile walls to allow the micro-tunneling machine to pass. This often took a day or more to cut. In addition, the contractor was required to stop tunneling when trains passed overhead.

Construction in 2021

The focus during the 2021 construction season was on building the upstream and downstream connections. This included a large buried concrete transition structure south of Garfield Ave. where water from the creek and the 22nd St./Kaufmann Ave. storm sewer system comes together before entering the newly installed pipes. Downstream, a structure was built to transition water from the pipes into the creek as well as a pumping station and gate to control the water level of the upstream creek and storm sewer. In August 2021, after these structures were in place, the new pipes begin conveying stormwater. 

Work to convert the old box culverts into pedestrian tunnels under the railroad tracks continued in 2022 with the grand opening scheduled for Friday, June 24, at 4:30 p.m. 

Project Schedule

  • Initiate Public Bidding Process: Dec. 17, 2018
  • Publish Notice to Bidder: Dec. 21, 2018
  • Public Hearing Plans & Specifications: Jan. 7, 2019
  • Receipt of Bid Proposals: Jan. 22, 2019
  • Award Construction Contract: Feb. 4, 2019
  • Improvements Functional: August 2021
  • Final Project Completion: December 2021

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