Lake Bluff to spend $113K on flooding studies

Lake Bluff will spend nearly $113,000 to look for solutions to address flooding issues in town.

The Village Board unanimously agreed to fund three studies at its meeting on Monday, July 28.

Storm water drainage studies on Campbell Court and the West Scranton Avenue viaduct will be performed by Christopher B. Burke Engineering Ltd. (CBBEL) of Rosemont. CBBEL will receive $41,500 for its analysis of Campbell Court and $27,000 for the downtown viaduct study.

RJN Group, an engineering firm from Wheaton, was awarded a $29,780 contract to study sanitary sewer system evaluations for the East Terrace and Bath and Tennis Club areas.

Field televising of the sanitary sewers will be bid separately by the village within the next few months and is expected to cost an additional $14,000.

The flooding study contracts came before the Village Board with full support of the Finance Committee, Village Engineer George Russell and Village Administrator Drew Irvin.

Village President Kathy O’Hara said the studies will provide important information for future capital expenditure planning in the village.

She described the cost as “not insignificant but absolutely necessary in order for us to move forward as a village.”

Trustee and Finance Committee Chairman Steve Christensen agreed.

“It’s very important we get on with this now” to better plan for the budgeting process, he said. “It’s something we need to understand.”

The extreme rain storm on May 12 that dumped three inches of rain on the village in 90 minutes and flooded streets and basements prompted the village leaders to conduct the studies.

The storm made the viaduct under the Union Pacific railroad tracks in downtown Lake Bluff for more than 24 hours, forcing schools to close for the day. Another storm on June 21 closed the viaduct again for several hours.

West Scranton Avenue is the only permanent access road for emergency vehicles to cross the Union Pacific railroad tracks. The viaduct is drained by a 24-inch diameter clay storm sewer that was constructed in 1903 and discharges into the ravine along Sylvan Road, which is experiencing significant erosion problems, and in neighborhoods to the west and upstream.

During heavy rainfall, street flooding reaches levels that make roads impassable in an area bound by Green Bay Road on the west, West Washington Avenue on the north and Sheridan Place on the south, according to a village report.

In the Campbell Court subdivision, homes have experienced flooding during several storm events.

“The flooding in this area results in storm water runoff ponding in low areas within the subdivision and entering homes,” according to a village report.

The May 12 storm “inundated the sanitary sewer system with excess flow, causing backups and flooding throughout the village,” according to a village report. The East Terrace and Bath and Tennis Club areas were the hardest hit.

As part of its analysis, the RJN Group will conduct “smoke testing” to identify defects in the system and find contributing flooding sources.

In the smoke testing process, a non-toxic air and smoke mixture is blown into a sewer segment through manholes at both ends. Defects are identified where smoke exits the ground or a structure.

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