If you live in Riverside’s First Division, the southernmost peninsular area of the village, hemmed in by a loop in the Des Plaines River, you’re going to be living in the middle of a construction zone for about six months.
The bad news is that from about late April until October your streets are going to be dug up and won’t be fully resurfaced until sometime in 2018. The good news is that once the project finally is over, the First Division will have brand new streets and completely separate storm and sanitary sewers, which ought to help reduce basement flooding during heavy rains.
On March 16, the Riverside Village Board voted unanimously to award a $3.24 million contract to Christopher B. Burke Engineering Ltd. to lead the sewer separation project in the First Division.
The $3.24 million that Riverside will expend in 2017, however, is just part of the total bill for the work. That amount does not include resurfacing the streets once the sewer lines are installed. That work is expected to cost another $1.3 million, pushing the total cost of the sewer separation project to about $4.5 million.
Last year, Burke Engineering pegged the total cost of the work at about $5.75 million.
“So we’re over one million dollars under last year’s estimate,” said Orion Galey of Burke Engineering.
The project was supposed to have been completed last year but got sidetracked when officials ran into unexpected complications in the form of connections between sanitary sewers lines running from about 16 homes into the storm sewer lines.
According to Galey, the solution will be to abandon the more-than-century-old pipes serving as combined and sanitary sewers and build an entirely new storm sewer system in the First Division.
Pipes that now serve as a storm sewer line will become the First Division’s new sanitary sewer system, since so many homes are already connected to it.
“The intent of these projects is to separate your storm water flow from your sanitary flow, and the benefits you’ll see from that include reduced flooding, reduced sewer back-up into people’s homes, and then also the environmental aspect of reducing the amount of combined sewer overflow going into the river,” Galey told trustees at their March 16 meeting.
Presently the village’s sewer system can’t handle the amount of water coming down in large rain events, which results in sanitary waste water being released into the river during such storms.
The sewer installation project will be funded by reserves in the village’s water and sewer enterprise fund. Street repairs in the First Division, which won’t happen until 2018, will be funded by motor fuel tax and non-home rule sales tax revenues, according to Public Works Director Edward Bailey.
The First Division project will severely deplete the water and sewer fund reserves, leaving trustees wondering how sewer separation projects in other parts of the village will be paid for.
Village Manager Jessica Frances said the village could apply for low- or no-interest loans. Galey said that a smaller project to disconnect a storm sewer line west of First Avenue from the combined sewer system will be funded by a $90,000 grant from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago.