The Brookfield Avenue bridge replacement project reached a milestone earlier this week when work crews were finally able to dam off a section of Salt Creek in order to dig a trench and reroute a section of 16-inch water main.

The water main formerly went straight down Brookfield Avenue – underneath the river – and in the course of demolishing the old bridge officials learned that the water main would be at risk of damage unless it was rerouted to the north.

While such a plan was a complication, it was not believed at first to be the huge pain in the neck it became. While trying to drill a hole under the river north of Brookfield Avenue, however, an auger repeatedly ran into an unknown, but impenetrable, object.

Figuring out a work around – and getting the Illinois Department of Transportation to OK additional funding for that nearly $500,000 solution – took months. And so a project that began last April and was supposed to wrap up before the end of 2021 stretched into a new year.

Officials planned to do the water main reroute during February, but heavy snow, then frigid temperatures, followed by a thaw that increased river levels delayed the project another month.

Finally on March 14 and 15, workers rolled a pair of water-filled aquadams across the riverbed and spent a good day pumping out the area in between, which allowed the water main to be installed early into the morning hours of March 15.

As of this writing, ComEd still needed to have another crew dig a trench to bury some power lines, which will eliminate overhead lines immediately west of the bridge over Brookfield Avenue.

It’s not clear exactly when those overhead lines will disappear, but we’re hoping it’ll be soon so this project can finally get back on track and be completed sometime this summer.

As was the case in 2021, it looks like the July 4 parade route is going to have to end at the south end of Grand Boulevard instead of at village hall. But it’ll be a huge relief to everyone to finally get this bridge in place.

What do you say, ComEd? Let’s get those power lines out of the way ASAP so Brookfield can get its street back. Hopefully we won’t see any more surprises.

Turning out the lights

What a run. When The Mister Shop opened in the North Riverside Park Mall back in 1975, no one probably wondered how long any of the stores there might last. 

But with powerhouses like Carson’s, Montgomery Ward, Penney’s, Madigan’s on the scene, what chance did a mom-and-pop men’s clothier stand in the long run?

Turns out, The Mister Shop outlasted nearly every other retailer that opened its doors 47 years ago, including those legendary Chicago department stores Carson’s, Ward’s, Madigan’s and even Sears.

Its longevity is a testament to the hard work of the Kurtz family and its roster of loyal employees who helped generations of Chicago and suburban men and boys look their stylish best.

Good luck in retirement, Randy.