Two areas hard hit by flooding last spring are targeted for hundreds of thousands of dollars in infrastructure upgrades this summer.
Downers Grove officials are considering separate projects at Hill Street and Grand Avenue and at Washington and 40th streets, intended to better drain stormwater during inclement weather and reduce the threat of flooding to area homes.
A project costing nearly $200,000 will replace the head wall and grate at the opening of a large stormwater pipe and Hill and Grand.
Residents long have complained that the when the grate is down, the crisscrossing bars trap debris and prevent water from properly draining out of the area. Residents frequently ask the village to leave the grate up during storms, but officials have been reluctant to do that because the grate is a safety feature and prevents people from getting swept away into the pipe.
Crews did raise the grate during the April 2013 floods, but the securing chains broke, causing it to fall back to its lowered position. Residents said this caused large amounts of water to pool onto the streets, and into yards and basements.
The redesigned system will have a slight slope, facilitating water flow, and the grate will be made of hard plastic instead of metal, according to Public Works Director Nan Newlon. Using plastic will create smoother edges on the grate, preventing objects and debris from getting trapped and clogged. The opening will be about triple the existing surface area and increase capacity, Newlon said.
Newlon said contractors also will install remote cameras and sensors.
"It will allow staff to log in, view the camera, see if there's any reason to send maintenance staff out," Newlon said. "There will also be a remote monitor that will notify staff if the water gets to a certain height and if the water rate is rising at a high rate. It will give us much better eyes on the ground to monitor the operations."
Village Manager David Fieldman said that the more advanced design should eliminate the need for crews to manually raise the grate when rainfall and water flow is high.
"We don't plan to be raising this at all because it shouldn't have the debris clogging issues that the current one has," Fieldman said.
"We think that what's proposed is well-suited for this location and will work very well with very little intervention," Newlon said.
Noting that the project site is across the street from Whittier Elementary, Newlon said the work will start after the end of the school year and finish before the kids return for the fall term. Grade School District 58 marks its last day of school June 11 and returns Aug. 25.
The second project is a $650,000 endeavor to install a new storm sewer system near 40th and Washington.
The existing pipes would be removed and replaced with about 2,500 feet of pipes between 12 and 42 inches in diameter, according to village records. New sidewalks also would be installed.
The work initially was supposed to include 40th Street west of Washington, and Washington north and south of 40th. Bids for the original plan came in well over budget and officials opted to scrap the improvements scheduled for the southern portion of Washington, saying the storm sewers there still are in acceptable condition.
Another $54,000 is planned for the engineering of this work. Construction is scheduled to start later in June and wrap up by September.
Both projects are expected to be approved June 10.
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