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Major Improvements at Conservation World

Engineering's major improvement project at Conservation World insures accessibility to the site, helping visitors with disabilities as well as everyone else better enjoy the experience. 

 Attendees to the Department of Natural Resource's Conservation World exhibit area at the 2004 Illinois State Fair are in for a big change...for the better! Over the course of the last year, a major renovation project upgrading the walkways, tent pads and other pedestrian areas brought the site into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This effort benefits all visitors by allowing easier movement through the site, whether on foot, wheelchair or stroller.  It is expected that use of the scenic outdoor facility will be expanded for numerous public events throughout the year.  Educational programs, day camps, environmental workshops and training seminars can now be held at the site.

Gone are the gravel walkways and steep hills that proved difficult to visitors in the past...especially following a rainstorm. All walkways are now paved and follow gentle slopes. The network of accessible sidewalks guide visitors to specific locations throughout the grounds. 

Nearly 2,600 linear feet of paved sidewalks direct pedestrians to traditional venues such as the lumberjack show, the log cabin, and the fish tanks.  The sidewalks also provide access to tent displays, food vendors, and entertainment areas within Conservation World.

The greatest challenge to overcome was the elevation difference on the 10 acre site.  The Illinois Accessibility Code has specific slope requirement for both walkways and display areas.  Given the sloping terrain of the site, over 6,200 cubic yards of soil were cut and nearly 10,200 cubic yards of fill were required  to make the site accessible.  This earthwork was needed to overcome the 42 foot elevation difference between the main entrance gate and the boat docks on the pond.  The design uses several features which preserved as many of the existing trees and prairie vegetation as possible.

In addition to the earth and concrete work, new storm water inlets and storm sewers channel runoff into a new retention pond or into the existing pond.  The new retention pond, drains and storm sewers help minimize erosion around the sidewalks and tent pads, and reduce slope damage.

 One of the more unique aspects of the project is the construction of eight, 40 foot by 60 foot concrete tent pads.  Using a Technology Demonstration Grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, the tent pads were constructed using recycled glass cullet in lieu of aggregate and sand in the concrete mix. 

The demonstration project includes four different concrete mixes using different size crushed glass particles in different mixing ratios.  The project is intended to promote the effectiveness of using recycled glass within construction projects, and to demonstrate its durability over time and under typical Illinois weather conditions.

One final improvement was dredging the large pond of sediment accumulated over the last 50 years.  Over 17,000 cubic yards of material was removed from the bottom of the pond and transported to nearby agricultural fields.  The dredging more than doubled the pond's capacity and greatly improved water quality.  Dredging should allow the Department to once again offer boat rides and fishing clinics during the Illinois State Fair.