When North Riverside trustees voted to pass the village’s operating budget in July, they earmarked more than $850,000 for water and sewer system improvements, which included the first phase of a multi-year project to install a new 12-inch water main along Cermak Road from First Avenue to 17th Avenue.

On Aug. 14, the village board voted to award a $496,589 contract to Melrose Park-based Cerniglia Construction for phase one of that project, installing a section of new 12-inch water main from First Avenue to 5th Avenue.

North Riverside is beginning to address its water system infrastructure after about three years of work to improve its sewer system. 

In the 2017-18 fiscal year, the village plans to spend about $165,000 for the final phase of lining sections of sewer that are showing signs of cracking. In the two prior years, the village spent about $450,000 on sewer maintenance.

Water main improvements will be ongoing for the next several years, according to Public Works Director Tim Kutt, with the main “feeder” lines along Cermak Road and 26th Street/Forestview Avenue the first to be addressed.

“They are certainly coming up to an age where we have to start a program,” Kutt said.

The Cermak Road water main, which is between 70 and 80 years old, is reaching the end of its useful life. North Riverside Finance Director Sue Scarpiniti said that the Cermak Road project will be completed over the next four to five years. The cost for the improvements were built into water fee increases also passed by the village board on Aug. 14.

In August 2016, the Cermak Road water main suffered a major failure at 7th Avenue, which resulted in the village issuing a boil order that lasted for a day and a half. Water gushed out of the failed section of pipe at a rate of 600 gallons a minutes before a 10-foot section was repaired three hours later.

 Village officials say the work ought to start up in early September, just after Labor Day. Construction likely will continue into November, said Village Engineer John Fitzgerald.

Plans are still being reviewed by the Illinois Department of Transportation, which needs to issue a permit for the village to work within its rights-of-way both on First Avenue and Cermak Road.

According to Fitzgerald, traffic will be reduced to one lane along southbound First Avenue at Cermak Road during the project, and the right-turn lane from eastbound Cermak Road to southbound First Avenue will be shut down throughout the construction period.

Fitzgerald said the plan calls for the southernmost through-traffic lane on Cermak Road to temporarily serve as a right-turn only lane during the project.

There will also be impact to eastbound traffic along Cermak Road during daytime construction hours, Fitzgerald said. The southernmost lane of traffic will be closed while daytime work is happening.

“It’ll be back open for rush hour,” said Fitzgerald.

The existing 8-inch water main, which runs under Cermak Road, will be disconnected from the main supply, capped and abandoned in place. The new 12-inch water main will be located beneath the south parkway (and under the sidewalk between First Avenue and 2nd Avenue), which will require the excavation and then replacement of the parkways and sidewalks between First Avenue and 5th Avenue.

That means a definite impact to pedestrians, though vehicles will still be able to access residences and businesses on that stretch of Cermak Road.

“We’re used to designing projects for these kinds of issues to minimize the impact for everybody,” Fitzgerald said.

There will be intermittent water shutoffs to business and residences, but those affected will be notified in advance of the shutoffs, which should last only a couple of hours at a time.

“There will be minimal water service shutdowns,” Fitzgerald said, “when we make connections.”