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.” 

John Witte

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.”

Greg Chismark

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. 

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.

WBK Welcomes Tad McCrumb as Newest Team Member in Battle Creek Office

WBK Engineering is excited to announce the hiring of a new Site Development Engineer. We are pleased to welcome Tad McCrumb as the latest member of the WBK team in our Battle Creek office. 

As a Site Development Engineer, Tad will be supporting our federal, tribal, and private development work. He has been involved in civil engineering and land surveying since 2002, which led to him to pursue a his degree in Surveying Engineering from Ferris State University, and his professional license in engineering. Most recently, Tad worked for the City of Battle Creek for 10 years, working on infrastructure improvement projects both for local and state-funded projects, from the initial survey through construction and project close-outs . 

Tad was born and raised in Battle Creek, Michigan, and now he and his wife live there with their seven year old son. In his free time, he and his family enjoys camping and traditional archery events, along with many other outdoor activities.

WBK Welcomes Eve Olander as New Design Engineer to Transportation Practice

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

Eve is a Transportation Design Engineer at WBK Engineering. She previously worked for the Illinois Department of Transportation for over ten years and has experience in roadway and drainage design. Eve’s drainage design projects varied from small intersections to expressways. After leaving IDOT, Eve switched from Civil Engineering to Domestic Engineering to focus on raising her family. During that time, she worked part-time as a substitute teacher for District 301. Eve is looking forward to resuming her Civil Engineering career with WBK.

Eve lives in Elgin, Illinois with her husband Erik and three children: Olivia (15), Lars (13) and Serena (10). She enjoys spending time with family by traveling, playing sports, and going to church. Her hobbies are running, gardening, and reading.

WBK Spring Brook Restoration Project Wins Chicago Wilderness Award

WBK Spring Brook Bridge

WBK Spring Brook Restoration Project Wins Chicago Wilderness Award

WBK Spring Brook Bridge

Each year, Chicago Wilderness presents the Dr. George B. Rabb Force of Nature Awards to recognize individuals, organizations, and projects that go above and beyond to advance conservation in the Chicago area. In 2021, one of these coveted awards will go to the Spring Brook No. 1 Creek and Wetland Restoration – Phase 2 project. 

WBK Engineering worked on the Spring Brook project for the Forest Preserve District of DuPage Country. The goal of this work was to restore and naturalize over 2 miles of Spring Brook No. 1 Creek through the St. James Farm and Blackwell Forest Preserves. The FPDDC partnered with the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority on the restoration as part of the required “Waters of the US” mitigation for the Authority’s Elgin-O’Hare Western Bypass Project. 

As part of the site naturalization, the channelized stream was designed to meander through the forest preserve. The design seeks to optimize water quality benefits and enhance natural habitat by mimicking natural processes. The processes include geomorphologic features such as stream re-meandering, stream riffles, deep pools in channel bends, variable banks slopes, and reduced channel conveyance. These features provide variability of aquatic plant and animal habitat, reconnect the stream to the floodplain, and increase opportunities for removal of excess water-borne nutrients. Wetland creation was facilitated by stream improvements as well as field tile removal and modification. Fish passage will also be enhanced by the removal of an existing small dam and regrading a very steep reach. The realignment of the stream impacted existing trails and provided an opportunity for the FPDDC to introduce trail modifications that followed the site master plan. The improvements also included the replacement of two service road bridges and the addition of two new trail bridges. 

Spring Brook Stream

 

WBK Engineering is honored to partner with the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County on this and other projects in Illinois that improve recreation opportunities for residents while protecting and conserving our natural landscape and resources.