A $7.16 million flood prevention project for the village of Riverside could break ground by 2020 now that the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) has promised funding.
The federal government has pledged more than $4.65 million for the project, but said the rest had to be funded by a local source. Riverside’s municipal government has said it cannot afford to fund such an expensive project.
But in 2017, the MWRD told the village it would put $2.1 million toward the project in exchange for Riverside entering into an intergovernmental agreement. The village would also need to sign a project partnership agreement with the Army Corps of Engineers.
On Thursday, April 5 at 7 p.m. in Room 4 of the Riverside Township Hall, 27 Riverside Road, representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will present the Riverside Board of Trustees the proposed scope of the improvements, which do not appear to have substantially changed since they were first introduced in 2013.
While the proposal could change before a final plan is adopted, a PowerPoint presentation provided in the village board’s April 5 meeting packet indicates that the Army Corps is proposing flood-control measures both north and south of Forest Avenue along the east bank of the Des Plaines River.
To the north, the Army Corps has proposed raising the levee along Groveland Avenue by two feet. In 2013, the plan called for the raised levee to tie into Park Place. The plan called for the roadway itself to be raised to the height of the levee in order to eliminate a low spot where flood waters have overtopped the banks of the river and spilled behind the levee into Park Place, Groveland Avenue, Lincoln Avenue and Forest Avenue.
Village Manager Jessica Frances said there may now be alternatives to raising the roadway, but eliminating the low spot where Park Place meets Groveland is still a goal.
The Power Point in the meeting packet also indicates that the Army Corps still plans to build a floodwall along the riverbank behind the homes on West Avenue, all the way to the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railroad embankment.
In 2013, an Army Corps of Engineers project manager described the floodwall as being constructed by driving steel sheet pilings into the ground and pouring concrete over the sheet piling to form the wall.
In comparison, the levee along Groveland Avenue is topped with earth and grass.
Finally, the plan outlined in the April 5 meeting packet indicates installing a floodgate across Forest Avenue at the east end of the bridge.
When the floodwall plan was unveiled five years ago, about 30 residents calling themselves Riversiders for Responsible Flood Control called the solutions presented by the Army Corps “antiquated,” “short-sighted and unworkable.”
The residents also argued that creating a barrier at Park Place would increase the risk of flooding to homes along Maplewood Road and west of the river, particularly at Riverside-Brookfield High School.
The group of residents stated that realigning the piers supporting the BNSF railroad would improve the flow of the river, reducing flooding to the north. That solution was also identified by a 2009 study by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
The Riverside Village Board will not take any action on April 5, but will discuss the plan and options for moving forward.