What can a community or chamber of commerce do to beautify a viaduct when it runs under a railroad line? Not much. The crumbling faces can rarely be modified because they are owned by the railroad. Don’t even think about anchoring nicely finished panels to the scummy inside walls…those also belong to the railroad. The newest solution in the village of Oak Park, Ill., is to anchor an arched pedestrian walkway directly to the sidewalk. Rather than use a traditional U-shaped tunnel, the architect wanted a more organic looking arch. The fabricator turned to us for the multi-radius rolling of structural steel which gives a more organic look.
As it turns out, curved steel above this viaduct also contributed to beautify a train station. The station is part of a multi-modal transportation hub where elevated electric trains run (part of Chicago’s famous “el” lines), where diesel commuter trains run from Chicago to the western suburbs, and where taxicabs and buses meet in Oak Park (the first suburb due west of downtown Chicago.) (We were so excited to be “workin’ on the railroad” that we took a family team photo.)
If you took the el train from Oak Park to downtown Chicago, you could disembark from the elevated tracks anywhere in the Chicago loop (so called because the train loops around the downtown area before heading back out). If you took the commuter train from Oak Park to downtown, you could disembark underground somewhere near Michigan Avenue and Randolph Street, underneath such famous landmarks as One Prudential Plaza and Two Prudential Plaza. Here you would find underground heated walkways to take you to various parts of the city as well as to other means of transportation.
These walkways are also beautified with curved steel. In this case, stainless steel sheet polished to a mirror finish adorns the walls of the walkways. Needless to say, great care was taken when rolling the polished sheets to avoid any scratching.