UPDATED: June 25, 2014 at 4:55 p.m.
Riverside police have reported that the MWRD has closed the northbound lanes of traffic on First Avenue at Forest Avenue in order to begin the agency’s sewer access project. Until the project is completed — no earlier than mid-October — there will be one lane of traffic in either direction through the work area on First Avenue.
Police have warned that traffic backups are already becoming an issue, and are encouraging motorists to take alternate routes.
You might have thought that summer officially arrived over the weekend with daylight past 9 p.m., tropical humidity and drenching rains. For anyone driving through Riverside on First Avenue, temperatures are really going to rise with the beginning of a five-month-long construction project.
Traffic on First Avenue at Forest Avenue will be reduced to one lane in either direction until at least mid-October as the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) begins its project to add a manhole and access shaft to a “junction chamber” where MWRD interceptor sewers for Riverside and Brookfield meet.
The work is being done in advance of a large-scale MWRD sewer repair project planned for the future.
Because the new manhole will be located just north of the intersection in the northbound lanes of traffic, one lane of northbound traffic and a left-turn lane will be diverted into the southbound lanes of traffic.
As a result, southbound traffic will be reduced to one lane in order to accommodate a left-turn lane for vehicles turning onto eastbound Forest Avenue. Riverside Village Manager Peter Scalera said the lane closures on First Avenue should begin sometime next week.
The MWRD work was supposed to start in May, but the project was delayed after a utility survey indicated that the Brookfield-North Riverside Water Commission and the village of Riverside had utility lines that crossed in the area of the planned access shaft.
That sent the MWRD back to the drawing board.
“They’re trying to work out the logistics on where to relocate those pipes,” said Riverside Village Manager Peter Scalera.
It’s unclear at this time how the delay will affect the start of intersection improvements planned for later this summer by the Illinois Department of Transportation. Those improvements include the addition of right-turn lanes on westbound Forest Avenue and southbound First Avenue, along with signalization upgrades, pavement striping and a walking/bike path on the west side of First Avenue from Parkview Road to an area just north of Riverside-Brookfield High School.
But IDOT can’t begin their portion of the project until MWRD has wrapped up its work. A project newsletter, issued June 20 by Kenny Constriction, the general contractor for the MWRD project, estimated the work would be done by Nov. 15. Message boards along First Avenue indicate the work will be done by the second week of October.
“The MWRD is in contact with IDOT,” said Scalera. “We’re hoping they’re able to finish well in advance of the November deadline, but we won’t know until they start the work.”