WBK Engineering Hires Andy Sikich as New Civil Engineering Manager


WBK Engineering (WBK), the St. Charles-based civil engineering design and consulting firm, is bringing Andy Sikich on board to serve as Civil Engineering Manager.

Andy Sikich, PE, CFM brings more than 30 years of professional engineering experience in both public and private sectors, the most recent of which was spent serving as Director of Public Works for the Village of Downers Grove.

Sikich will serve as Civil Engineering Manager, overseeing the Municipal and Water Resources practice groups at WBK Engineering. Said WBK President, Greg Chismark, “Andy’s experience in public works design and construction, both within the public and private sectors will add to our depth and experience in providing civil engineering services to local markets in Chicagoland as well as across the country. We are very honored to welcome his leadership and commitment to excellence at WBK.”

Sikich feels that his new role at WBK offers the ability to exercise all the engineering expertise gained throughout his decades-long career. “The first half of my career was spent in the private sector, specializing in providing site/civil engineering and land development services. During the latter half, I was in leadership roles primarily within municipal public works departments, so I feel that this role and opportunity to join WBK is the perfect marriage of my previous experiences and expertise.”

“I look forward to jumping right into the local municipal infrastructure engineering and stormwater management projects that I’m familiar with but am also excited to be able to engage with the project teams across the Bodwé Professional Services Group, working with Federal clients and on projects across the country.”

The addition of the Civil Engineering Manager role demonstrates the investment and focus that the firm is putting on maximizing value for the clients of WBK and the Bodwe Professional Services Group. When considering the impact of providing mentorship in his new role, Sikich states “That’s one of the things I’ve enjoyed most throughout my engineering career – the opportunity to help springboard the next generation of leadership and I am very pleased to now be able to do that at WBK.”

Sikich is the latest hire for WBK Engineering and the tribally owned Bodwé Professional Services Group. WBK is committed to their clients and to the betterment of communities by mediating the built and natural environments.

The Humanitarian and Environmental Case for Dam Removal

There are a variety of good reasons to build dams, and just as many to remove them. A true economic driver in the early to mid-1900s, dams helped to create new industries through harnessing the power of a river. Additionally, they were effective tools to divert water for irrigation and create lakes for recreational activity. As times and technologies changed, many dams no longer serve their original purposes, leaving behind structures that have proven to be dangerous to people and a detriment to the surrounding environment. Over the past two decades, municipalities and conservation organizations have relied on WBK Engineering’s experience and expertise to remove nearly a dozen such dams in the Midwest.

Dam removal is equal parts brain and brawn, as engineers conduct a thorough hydraulic assessment to understand the effects of removing the structure before work begins.

Danger in the Water

First and foremost, dams can create a too-often fatal safety risk, with more than four dozen deaths annually caused by dams. The Hammel Woods Dam on the DuPage River in Will County was no different – responsible for three deaths in just 8 years, it was clear it needed to go. Called a “low-head dam” or “run-of-the-river dam”, it ran the entire width of the river from bank to bank. Flow conditions at this dam, not unlike many low-head dams, can trap even the most experienced paddlers and swimmers. WBK was called in to assess the structure and create a plan for its removal.

“Removing a dam may seem fairly straightforward but understanding the changing hydraulics of the river before and after is paramount,” explains WBK Water & Environment Practice Manager Scott Randall. “Dams affect the flow of the river, and simply removing them can have unexpected results such as flooding or releasing pollutants downstream.”

Projects begin with an engineering and environmental analysis of the dam, observing both the hydraulics of the river, as well as the contents of the sediment that naturally build up on the upstream side of the dam. To do this, a water sample is taken and analyzed for contaminants. If the levels are too high, sediment must be managed prior to removal of the dam.

“Naturally, dams affect the flow of the river, and simply removing them can have unexpected results such as flooding or releasing pollutants downstream.”

Coffering a Dam

Coffering a dam is necessary to allow demolition equipment a dry foundation to remove the dam structure.

(Courtesy of Forest Preserve District of Will County.)

The first step of removal is to coffer the dam area, creating a barrier to divert all the water to one side of the structure, de-watering the coffered area so construction equipment, usually backhoes, can begin the demolition process. Once one side has been removed, water is released to the un-dammed side and the other side is then coffered and de-watered for removal.

Environmental Impact

Before After

Removing barriers creates a more free flowing river, leading to healthier water with more microinvertebrates for the larger ecosystem to once again thrive.

WBK Engineering’s dam removal experience began nearly 20 years ago with the Brewster Creek Dam near Elgin, Illinois. The 75-year-old, 11-foot-high dam was designed to create a canoeing and swimming lake for the neighboring YMCA, but sediment built up at the dam site over time, making navigability of the lake difficult. Unfettered growth of reed canary grass had decreased water quality and threatened the aquatic habitat of much of the river’s wildlife. Recognizing the environmental benefits of removing the dam, consensus was reached on an approach to the project that called for a gradual notching of the dam spillway over the course of nine months. The notching of the dam allowed a channel to form gradually and naturally through the impounded sediments.

As science has advanced and the ability to quantify the effects of dams on the surrounding environment has come along, dam removals have become a frequent discussion item among municipalities and county forest districts.

“Beyond simply eliminating barriers to fish passage, removing dams can be a benefit to all the wildlife in the area,” explains Jeff Guerrero, WBK Water Resources Engineer. “Connecting the stream means the return of a lot of micro-invertebrates, which in turn expands the diversity of the ecosystem.”

Before After

The stacked limestone barrier of the Warrenville Grove Dam was replaced by with native plant-life in a lively river.

Project Highlight: Warrenville Grove Dam

Built in Illinois on the West Branch DuPage River in the late 1930s, the Warrenville Grove Dam was constructed of a reinforced concrete upstream face supported by a concrete footing. Quarried limestone slabs laid in mortar made up the stair stepped downstream face of the dam. The dam’s total height was approximately 8.5 feet above the downstream river channel bottom.

The structure was negatively impacting fish passage, recreational use, and water quality within the pooled areas created by the dam. Removal meant the return of a free-flowing river, eliminating the barrier to aquatic migration upstream. Beyond simply removing the dam, WBK engineers kickstarted the re-naturalization with the addition of a variety of native plants, as well as site design and restoration of an island for public recreation.

Before After

The WBK Water Resources team were brought in to create engineering plans for the removal of Ryerson Dam, replacing the barrier with a series of rock riffles for improved water quality.


Project Highlight: Ryerson Dam

The Ryerson Dam, located on the Des Plaines River in Lake County, Illinois, was a run of river structure constructed of steel sheet that extended 97 feet across the river, with a 70-foot spillway in the middle. The Lake County Forest Preserve District contracted with WBK to manage the final design and engineering for the removal of the dam and re-naturalize the area.

The purpose of this dam removal project was to restore the ecological health of an impounded segment of the Des Plaines River. By removing the dam and allowing for re-creation of upstream channel conditions, this project restored the natural ecological functions and processes of a free-flowing river. In addition, the WBK team added riffles to oxygenate the water, going from a stagnant, lake-like pool to a vibrant, active river free of barriers to fish migration and mussel dispersion upstream.

Thoughtful Mediation

Whether it’s for public safety or environmental restoration, dam removal has become increasingly important for municipalities and forest preserves. Once removed, untold budget and time are saved by no longer needing to allocate resources for their maintenance, allowing the river to return to its natural state. Eliminating these barriers of recreational or aquatic passage, WBK has lived up to its mission to mediate the built and natural environments.

Engineering Safe Streets: A Cyclist’s Perspective

WBK Engineering Transportation Design Engineer Matt Cave describes the issue in simple terms: “Cities are primarily designed for cars, and cyclists are frowned upon. Too often there aren’t even shoulders on roads, so cyclists must share the lane with vehicles. Cyclists don’t like it because they’re worried about getting hit, and motorists don’t like it because they get slowed down. It’s a lose-lose for everybody.”

As Matt rides his bike to work most days, he knows this firsthand, and safety is forefront in his mind.

“We’re like 1/20th the size of a car so it can be scary sometimes.”

More Bikes on the Road

The main goal of a traffic project is simple. “The mission is straightforward,” says Matt, “for everyone to get from point A to point B safely.” This has become increasingly important as commuters who bike to work increased 61% from 2000 to 2019, and in a recent survey, 10% of respondents answered that they’re more likely to bike to work post-COVID.

Dave Simmons, Executive Director of Ride Illinois, a non-profit organization committed to cyclist infrastructure and safety, has seen the growth firsthand. “Interest in biking for both recreation and transportation has definitely increased,” states Dave. “The challenge for advocacy organizations is keeping interest level high so riding a bike becomes second nature for more and more Illinois residents.”

“One of our goals is to convince more people to integrate riding a bike into their lifestyle, not just for recreation. If one asks, ‘Can I bike there?’ and the answer is ‘yes’, we encourage them to hop on their bike and go! If the answer is ‘no’ because infrastructure is subpar or there isn’t parking at the end location, we encourage them to raise their concern to decision makers.”

Increased commitment to biker safety comes as a result of increased cyclist fatalities, due in large part to unclear markings and driver inattention. Naturally, this has forced municipalities to quickly rethink safety measures on their busy streets, partnering with civil engineering firms like WBK to redesign traffic for all to share the road.

“There are a variety of different bike safety designs to choose from,” explains Yemi Oyewole, PE, WBK Transportation Practice Manager, all with advantages and disadvantages. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach as needs and available space vary from town to town. The key is collaborative partnership to determine the right solution for the specific situation of the community.”

The Evolution of Bike Lanes

Bike lanes started as simply unprotected lanes on the shoulder of a busy street. While this is still the case in many areas of the country, especially in rural areas, urban centers have strived to go further to protect cyclists from their much larger counterparts and to clarify rights of way and traffic laws for both parties to travel harmoniously.

Regardless of the approach to bike lanes, municipalities have seen success in traffic-calming techniques such as narrowing the lanes for automobile traffic, which naturally causes drivers to slow down as the space between them and other vehicles is reduced. This creates roads that feel less like wide-open racetracks through the city and more like pathway of slower travel. Lane narrowing also creates space for cyclist-only lanes, of which there are a variety for municipalities to choose from.

Buffered Bicycle Lane

Example of a buffered bicycle lane.

Image from Urban Bikeway Design Guide, by NACTO. Copyright © 2014 National Association of City Transportation Officials. Reproduced by permission of Island Press, Washington, D.C.

As a cyclist and transportation engineer, Matt Cave has a unique perspective of the options available. “At the very least, a buffered lane provides some space between cyclists and cars as it is specifically for cyclists, with a visible boundary, often painted crosshatches, between it and the closest car lane,” explains Cave. This increased separation provides adequate space for both types of transportation, but still allows potential risk at intersections and by parked car doors opening along the buffered lane.

Separated Bike Lane

Another best-practice Cave recommends to clients is a separated bike lane which, as the name implies, includes some type of barrier physically separating the bike and automobile lanes. This can be as simple as orange cones or as complex as an elevation change. “While a curb naturally discourages automobiles from getting too close to cyclists, much more so than cones,” says Cave, “any separation is safer than a simple painted line.

Example of a one-way, parking separated bicycle lane.

Image from Urban Bikeway Design Guide, by NACTO. Copyright © 2014 National Association of City Transportation Officials. Reproduced by permission of Island Press, Washington, D.C.

Bicycle box

Example of a bicycle box at an intersection.

Image from Urban Bikeway Design Guide, by NACTO. Copyright © 2014 National Association of City Transportation Officials. Reproduced by permission of Island Press, Washington, D.C.

Buffered lanes and separated lanes are effective safety measures while moving along a roadway, but intersections remain dangerous areas for cyclists in terms of being seen as well as understanding of rights of way by motorists. To this end, Cave recommends a concept called bike boxes, designated areas in front of all traffic at stops serves to guarantee bicycle visibility by drivers. Automobiles are required to stop behind the bike box, allowing cyclists to wait at the front of traffic. “This is especially important in cases where the motorist is taking a right turn,” comments Cave, “which requires them to travel through the designated bike lane.”

Simmons explains that simply designing a better solution isn’t enough. “When new road infrastructure, such as a bike box, is installed there is a high likelihood that the general public may be confused,” emphasizes Simmons. “Planners, engineers, and municipal staff must include outreach to the public, prior to installation, so the public knows how to properly use the new infrastructure.”

Cycling from City to Nature

While finding safe solutions for scenarios involving city roadway traffic tend to take the spotlight, ensuring safe passage for cyclists travelling on independent paths is important as well, as uneven material such as gravel and crossing over roads and railways can cause hazards for biker safety.

For the Fox River Trail Project within the Forest Preserve District of Kane County, WBK provided engineering services to transform a 7-foot-wide gravel path into a 10- to 12-foot-wide paved pathway with rails that connects the Fox River Trail to the Virgil Gilman Nature Trail. The highlight of the new trail is a bicycle/pedestrian bridge over the Fox River constructed of four spans of pre-engineered steel truss structures supported on reinforced concrete substructures. The overall trail improvement project, designed and managed by WBK, includes 6,000 feet of bicycle path along the west bank of the Fox River, including increasing safety and visibility for three roadway crossings, incorporating solar-powered lighted yield signs for drivers.

“Being able to work with local municipalities to help them better serve the people in the communities in which we live and work is gratifying. Projects like the Fox River Trail enable us as engineers to see the difference we make in helping people to move about safely and to interact with the environment because movement throughout has been made possible.”

Ryan Sikes, PE, PTOE Returns to WBK Engineering as Transportation Project Manager


WBK Engineering is excited to announce the hiring of a new Project Manager joining our Transportation Practice Group. We are pleased to welcome Ryan Sikes, PE, PTOE back to WBK Team in our St. Charles office.

Ryan brings more than 10 years of experience in transportation design and project management, spending five of those years with WBK between 2016 and 2020, completing numerous Phase I studies and Phase II design projects. Throughout his career, Ryan has accumulated experience in all phases of transportation engineering, contributing to traffic impact studies, capacity analyses including intersection design studies using both HCS and Synchro traffic modeling software, corridor and intersection improvement designs, traffic signal installation plans, categorical exclusion reports, cost estimating, public involvement, and all other related work necessary to complete Phase I preliminary engineering for intersections, highway segments, and bicycle/pedestrian facilities. He has extensive experience working with the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), various counties, and municipalities.

In his spare time, Ryan enjoys spending time with his wife and three kids, and watching hockey and baseball.

Ryan Harth Joins WBK as Municipal Design Engineer

Ryan Harth Joins WBK as Municipal Design Engineer

WBK Engineering is excited to announce the hiring of a new Design Engineer joining our Municipal Practice. We are pleased to welcome Ryan Harth, as the latest member of the WBK team in our St. Charles office.

Ryan is a Municipal Design Engineer at WBK Engineering. She has previously worked as a project engineer on land development projects at Jacob and Hefner Associates. She also studied at Trine University where she was involved with women’s hockey and Engineers Without Borders.

Outside of the office, Ryan has cats at home and enjoys traveling and spending time outside during all seasons. She is excited to be a part of the WBK team and to learn from the opportunities and experience joining the Bodwé Group will bring. WBK Engineering extends a warm welcome Ryan in joining the Bodwé and family!

A Return to Nature: Spring Brook Creek

A river runs through it once again.  

Spring Brook Creek, located within the St. James Farm and Blackwell Forest Preserves of the DuPage River watershed, has been revitalized following a partnership of WBK Engineering, Forest Preserve District of DuPage County (FPDDC) and The Wetland Initiative (TWI).  

Decades of rapid population growth for the Chicago region, beginning as far back as 1850, precipitated the need for accompanying land development for commercial, industrial, and residential use. Land was altered to fit new demands, with some lasting environmental impacts that needed attention. 

This attention came in the way of a team of preservation and engineering experts converging on Spring Brook Creek, which had become a stagnant, channelized ditch to assist in irrigation and development of surrounding farmland. The team’s goal was to re-naturalize over two miles of creek, returning the environment to its days as a lively ecosystem for a variety of plants and animals. 

The first step in restoration was taking the stagnant ditch and re-meandering it back into its predevelopment condition as a winding, moving stream. The stream re-meander was hydraulically modeled using one-dimensional steady-state models to check the effectiveness of the geomorphological enhancements by assessing bank-full flow conditions, flood inundation areas, and flow velocities. In areas with complex flow regimes, where the flow could not be adequately captured by one-dimensional models, WBK utilized two-dimensional models to determine flow direction and distribution. Hydraulic models were also used for assessing hydraulic adequacy of bridges, evaluating impacts of dam removal, and ensuring regulatory floodway construction rules were met. 

Through this re-meandering work, the Creek channel length expanded from 2,000 feet to 3,200, with deep bends accentuating the turns. WBK engineers and ecologists, including Civil Engineering Practice Lead John Witte, were able to include a variety of natural features such as “riffles,” adding rocks and other natural elements at strategic spots in the stream to rouse the water, encouraging healthy oxygenation and the removal of excess water-borne nutrients. “This also facilitates micro-organism abundance within the water,” Witte explains, “creating more food sources for the many varieties of fish in the streams.” 

WBK staff then worked to bring back native plant-life, including blue flag iris and rose mallow, replacing the grasses that did little to offer nutrition for the surrounding wildlife. With clean water and new food sources, animals began to return to their former homes.  

Perhaps most importantly, the work by WBK Engineering and partners reconnected the stream to the greater floodplain, allowing for a more fully developed ecosystem to thrive. The waterway became a fish passage once again, thanks to the removal of a small dam and the regrading of a very steep segment of stream. 

“[Riffles] also facilitate micro-organism abundance within the water, creating more food sources for the many varieties of fish in the streams.” 

The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County has been an integral partner in this revitalization effort. Their mission is “to acquire and hold lands containing forests, prairies, wetlands and associated plant communities or lands capable of being restored to such natural conditions for the purpose of protecting and preserving the flora, fauna and scenic beauty for the education, pleasure and recreation of its citizens.” 

Scott Meister, Manager of Natural Resources with the FPDDC, has been very pleased with the results of the Spring Brook project. “The restoration of Spring Brook has been incredibly successful and could not have been possible without the assistance of multiple partners, including WBK Engineering. The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County has been working with WBK on multiple phases of this restoration project since 2014, and we continue to partner on a third and final phase. The impact of this project will have long-lasting positive effects on our community, including cleaner water, reduced flooding, and improved wildlife habitat. From design to permitting to construction, WBK has been an integral part of project’s success, and we look forward our continued partnership to advance the mission of the Forest Preserve District.” 

This revitalization of the area is of great benefit to plants and animals alike, and it also transformed it into a nature getaway for people to experience the beauty of the area once again. The re-meandering and addition of the riffles brought back the sound of moving water. Greg Chismark, President of WBK Engineering, explains the benefit, “Moving water is healthier water and creates a calming backdrop for DuPage Forest Preserve District patrons taking advantage of the redesigned trails and bridges which were also part of the project.” With a vibrant, clean stream, the sounds of bird songs soon returned, as the surrounding environment is slowly responding to the area’s re-naturalization. 

The project also included a new way to appreciate the revitalized space with WBK’s design of a multi-use path and two bridge structures. The realignment of the stream impacted an existing equine trail and provided an opportunity for the FPDDC to introduce trail modifications that followed the site master plan. WBK structural engineers designed two bridges, an access road slab bridge to replace the existing deteriorating structure and a new single-span refabricated pedestrian truss bridge over the realigned channel. The new bridge served as a connection between the old and new trail systems within St. James Farm. 

“Moving water is healthier water and creates a calming backdrop for DuPage Forest Preserve District patrons taking advantage of the redesigned trails and bridges which were also part of the project.”

Living in an urban center like Chicago and its busy suburbs, it’s difficult to get a full appreciation for the calm and beauty of the world. Less than an hour outside the city, away from the trains and traffic, lies a nature reserve getaway for fresh air and exploration. With a revitalized ecosystem made possible through the strong and ongoing partnership between WBK Engineering and the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, Spring Brook Creek has been returned to nature. 

Pride of the Fox: St. Charles Riverwalk

Pride of the Fox: St. Charles Riverwalk
Pride of the Fox: St. Charles Riverwalk

The Fox River begins just west of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and runs 200 miles south before converging with the Illinois River. On its path south, it flows through downtown St. Charles, Illinois, where it has undergone a transformation to become a focal point and resource for the city.

“It wasn’t long ago that grocery store loading docks backed up to the Fox.. Now we have apartment balconies and community spaces that overlook it,” explains WBK Engineering President Greg Chismark. “It’s been quite the change.” This change didn’t happen by accident or overnight and represents a concerted and organized effort by the City of St. Charles to transform Fox River from its past as an industrial resource to a modern, community-based vision of the river as the center of the city’s commerce and community.

Before After

Fox River, 2008

Fox River, 2021

Making this vision a reality was no small task, and a comprehensive plan in the early stages was key. WBK was contracted by the City to review the Fox River flood model and engineers determined that there was an opportunity for additional development along the river, making expanded community spaces a possibility like never before. This remapping of the floodplain and floodway facilitated the City’s plans for a riverwalk along the Fox.

Connectivity of the riverwalk was important to the City and Chismark explains, “Pedestrian circulation is important from a public use standpoint. Paths are more likely to be used when there’s a perceived loop to easily return to where you started. It also has the added benefit of allowing people to discover new areas they might not usually explore, simply because the riverwalk loops through those locations.”

Courtesy of the City of St. Charles

“It wasn’t long ago that grocery store loading docks backed up to the Fox.. Now we have apartment balconies and community spaces that overlook it.”

WBK’s responsibilities were wide-ranging, including creation of the construction documents, structural design of the retaining walls along the river, landscape design of planters, seating areas, brick pavers, and a rail along the riverwalk to protect the public from high river levels and fast-moving water. WBK collaborated with the City’s Electric Department to install a series of pedestrian lights for added security, safety and to extend the riverwalk’s accessibility into the late evening.

The Riverwalk has been effective in bringing more people downtown, allowing the adjacent First Street project to grow as both a commercial and residential area. By showcasing the river as its center, the City and WBK have infused new energy into downtown St. Charles, creating a focal point for the region.

Russell Colby, St. Charles Director of Community Development, describes the City’s partnership with WBK. “They’ve provided critical guidance and assistance over the years as the City has progressed on the First Street Redevelopment project, with a focus on planning for functional public spaces that can be efficiently constructed, and meeting standards and permit requirements for impacts along the Fox River.”

The Riverwalk is a point of pride for St. Charles, says Bob Rasmussen, construction manager collaborating with the City on development of the Riverwalk. “I spend most evenings on my balcony overlooking the riverwalk with its various elevations, planting areas and walkways. The design is truly special to our downtown and I could not be happier with the final layout. I am very proud of the work we performed together with the City of St. Charles and believe our citizens have benefited greatly from the design of this critical area in our downtown.”

Courtesy of the City of St. Charles

"[The path] also has the added benefit of allowing people to discover new areas they might not usually explore, simply because the riverwalk loops through those locations.”

The First Street public/private partnerships have become successful, with talented professionals coming together and overcoming challenges to solidify the city’s identity as a thriving river town.

Another significant element of the revitalization efforts has been the addition of plazas on the east and west sides of First Street, creating dining opportunities, a performance area, festival and event venues, and space for art right in the heart of the city. Future expansion of public plazas is anticipated along with improved connectivity from Main Street to the First Street riverwalk. Marty Serena of Serena Sturm Architects has been integral in developing the vision to close 1st Street from Main Street to Walnut Street to create additional pedestrian and public space.

“The Plaza has become the central gathering place of our community,” comments Serena, “showcasing the vibrant core of our civic, economic and ecological qualities for our entire community and visitors to enjoy.”

“I am very proud of the work we performed together with the City of St. Charles and believe our citizens have benefited greatly from the design of this critical area in our downtown.”

© 2022 WBK Engineering

WBK is again collaborating to provide civil engineering expertise for this future improvement, including  managing the relocation of utilities, additional landscaped planters, structural design and replacement of existing retaining walls, management of drainage and coordination with significant architectural elements – all with a focus on sustainability.

The first phase of this future plaza began when the City purchased the former Manor Restaurant site in 2020. The restaurant building had been demolished, except for a portion of the exterior foundation along the river. The existing wall was determined to be unsuitable for future plaza construction. Rather than remove the wall, which would have been costly with potential environmental impact, WBK developed a soldier pile wall solution allowing a cast in place concrete wall directly adjacent to the existing Manor restaurant wall. This concept minimized cost, permit time and maximized public space for the future plaza.

The concrete wall has the same aesthetic treatment as the riverwalk wall to the south, consisting of a rock faced form liner and stained concrete to emulate the existing stone river walls.  The project was recently completed by Martam Construction.

© 2022 WBK Engineering

“[WBK has] provided critical guidance and assistance over the years as the City has progressed on the First Street Redevelopment project, with a focus on planning for functional public spaces that can be efficiently constructed, and meeting standards and permit requirements for impacts along the Fox River.”

It’s experience like this that Colby finds value, “The City has relied on WBK’s expertise to effectively navigate the regulatory steps and develop plans that the City has been able to execute. They are a valuable and reliable partner for the City’s development-related engineering work and have offered creative design solutions that have helped make 1st street a standout downtown project.”

The space won’t remain empty for long, as it has been filled in to bring it to ground level, and efforts have begun to create an inviting green space to gather in between shopping, dining and otherwise exploring the vibrant downtown area. Future plans for this space include an expansion of the existing plaza, solar pergolas, permeable pavers, and additional art installations.

Additionally, a portion of 1st Street will transition from a roadway to a pedestrian walking mall and community space to gather, shop and relax. WBK Engineering developed civil and structural plans on behalf of Serena Sturm Architects, and Martam Construction was tasked with making it all happen.

Courtesy of the City of St. Charles

The momentum of redevelopment has spread from First Street on the west side of the Fox River to the east side of the river. Kurt Hurst of Frontier Development has invested in downtown redevelopment opposite the First Street project on the east side of the river. “I’m very excited for what’s happening to downtown. It’s a revitalization of an area that’s been around for a long time.”  Frontier has engaged WBK Engineering to assist with a variety of redevelopment projects relying on their experience with floodplain management, urban site design, and utility planning.

“WBK has been a wonderful partner and a pleasure to work with on the First Street Plaza endeavor,” says Serena. “Greg and his team are quite talented, knowledgeable, and very conscientious in their efforts. Quality design is a dance between art and technology, and we very much appreciate our partnership with WBK in the development of the plaza. We truly feel that their work will push this project to high levels of creative engineering and execution of our work.”​​

The First Street project has revitalized downtown St. Charles living up to the City’s motto “The Pride of the Fox”. Chismark shares the same pride for WBK’s contribution. “It’s extremely gratifying to create meaningful public spaces and private opportunities, no matter the location. But there’s an extra feeling of pride when you’re able to make a positive impact and see it on a daily basis. Much of this work is right outside the doors to our office, and it’s not uncommon for our employees to spend their lunches or after work in these same spaces we helped develop. We appreciate the opportunity to be a partner with the City, culminating in special projects that have a positive impact on the region.”

Courtesy of the City of St. Charles

WBK Engineering Expands Expertise in Michigan

The Grand Reopening of New Office Significantly Enhances Firm’s Midwest Footprint. 

WBK Engineering, the Midwest’s premier civil engineering, planning and environmental resources consulting firm, is proud to announce the expansion of its office in Battle Creek, MI. The company will host a grand reopening and open house on June 16th. The WBK office is located at 68 East Michigan Avenue with the open house event running from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. EDT. The event is complementary and open to the public.

WBK is owned by Mno-Bmadsen, the non-gaming investment arm of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi, whose executives and elders will join in the celebration. Professionals from WBK, as well as those from sister companies, Seven Generations Architecture + Engineering (7GAE), and The Steelhead Engineering Co., will attend, as well as leaders from the municipal and business communities.

The new WBK office has grown to include the second floor as well as a redesign of its existing space on the first floor. The doubling in size of the office space will allow WBK to better serve existing clients and new clients throughout the Midwest, with a focus on Michigan and Indiana. Justian Crane, PE, who has been with WBK for six years, will continue to lead the new office.

“Justian Crane deserves recognition for his hard work in making the office start up and expansion successful,” says President Greg Chismark. “I cannot think of a more thoughtful, accurate, and hard-working engineer.”

WBK’s expertise includes extensive experience with water resources, municipal, site development and transportation work for state and local governments. The firm, which is part of Mno-Bmadsen’s Bodwé Professional Services Group, works with clients to develop and implement shared vision through service and stewardship, bringing a high degree of expertise and sustainable infrastructure solutions to municipal, public, private, federal, and tribal projects.

“We’re excited to enhance our capabilities and continue to work closely with our clients throughout the Midwest and the nation,” says Crane. “We’ve been fortunate to grow deep and meaningful partnerships with municipalities in Illinois and this expansion allows us to take this collaborative approach to benefit new cities in the Midwest to improve the communities in which we live.”

With 7GAE and Steelhead just 25 miles away in Kalamazoo, the proximity of the expanded WBK Engineering office strengthens cohesion under the Bodwé Professional Services Group. This allows for true collaboration on a variety of projects including tribal and federal initiatives.

WBK Welcomes Matt Cave, EIT as New Transportation Design Engineer

WBK Engineering is pleased to announce the hiring of a new Design Engineer joining our Transportation Practice. We are pleased to welcome Matt Cave, EIT,  as the latest member of the WBK team in our St. Charles office.

Matt Cave

Matt recently graduated from Purdue University with a BS in civil engineering. He has an EIT license and is looking to get his PE license in the near future. He has past experience with various IDOT and Tollway roadway projects.

Matt was born and raised in Batavia, Illinois. In his free time, he enjoys biking, disc golf, and spending time with friends.

Ravaging and Revitalizing: The Story of the Northern Illinois Watershed – Chapter 5

Chapter 5: Moving Forward

The history of the Illinois watershed offers many lessons. When the health of the land takes a backseat to the growth of an area, problems are sure to follow. Rapid development can have damaging effects, especially when compounded by decisions that ignore environmental impacts. As Native people were forcibly and tragically removed from their homelands, replaced by rapid population growth and dizzying land development, the drastic change has had lasting effects on the watershed, effects only now being addressed through a more holistic approach. In short, with exponentially more people using more resources and producing more byproducts, a plan that doesn’t acknowledge and address all these human-made problems cannot be successful.

Decades of attempts have proven that simply managing stormwater once the storm is happening isn’t enough. With over-developed land, simply shifting the water downstream only pushes the issue elsewhere, causing damage to the environment along the way as the streams carry contaminants across the region. Instead, the key to effective management of stormwater runoff is to reduce the amount of stormwater generated in the first place by maintaining and working with the hydrology of a site and managing stormwater at the source.

Civil engineers and scientists from WBK Engineering, headquartered in St. Charles, Illinois, are working with municipalities, governmental agencies, and environmental organizations to develop a holistic approach to the problem. “By determining the amount of land that needs to remain natural to take advantage of its innate absorption and filtering qualities,” comments John Witte, WBK Civil Engineering Practice Lead, “we can better manage development and better understand how to mitigate the damage our society has done.” While we can’t undo the impact of a metropolitan area the size of Chicagoland overnight, we can move toward the honorable harvest approach for how we live and grow.

For centuries before European settlers arrived, Native tribes lived in unison with the land, honoring it and their part in the circle. With this as a guiding principle, WBK Engineering is honored to play a role alongside many as the Illinois watershed is undergoing a transformation. With cleaner water and more food sources for the surrounding ecosystem once again, the land itself is providing healthier resources back to its inhabitants, human, animal, and plant alike.

Resources for Environmental Sustainability and Conservation