A major water main installation project, which will disrupt traffic along the entire length of Fillmore Street in Oak Park and a portion of that street in Forest Park, is expected to break ground later this summer and continue for about a year.

In the works for at least two years, the $17 million project is designed to provide a supplemental water main for the Brookfield-North Riverside Water Commission, whose principal water supply comes via a pipe built in 1938, which is nearing the end of its useful life.

The commission, which supplies water to Brookfield, North Riverside, Lyons and LaGrange Park, wants an emergency supply line in case any portion of the old concrete water main fails or if service needs to be interrupted to make repairs to it.

“If we lose the [existing] pipeline, the impact would be major on the towns that get water from us,” said Robert Novotny, superintendent of the Brookfield-North Riverside Water Commission. “We have to protect ourselves to maintain that integrity.”

Brookfield, North Riverside, Lyons and LaGrange Park will be assessed additional fees over the next seven years to pay the debt service on a 20-year, low-interest loan from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.

But the physical impact of the installation of a 12,100-foot-long, 36-inch ductile iron water main is going to be felt in The Island neighborhood of Chicago, Oak Park and Forest Park.

It’s unclear exactly when construction will begin. Details are being finalized on the loan, but Brookfield-North Riverside Water Commissioner Ed Durec told the North Riverside Village Board on April 18 that the commission hoped it could seek bids by the end of May and begin construction later this summer. The commission is also waiting for the village of Forest Park to sign off on the project.

According to Timothy H. Klass, an engineer from Frank Novotny and Associates who is the project manager, the new pipe will connect with the Chicago water supply at Roosevelt Road and Menard Avenue in Chicago and then head north to Fillmore Street before turning west.

In addition, the water commission has purchased a location at the northwest corner of Waller Avenue and Fillmore Street in Chicago, where a small reservoir and pump station can be built in the future if needed.

The pipe will head directly west down Fillmore Street, through the entire width of Oak Park, and then into Forest Park, where it will connect at Hannah Avenue with an existing 20-inch pipe owned by the Brookfield-North Riverside Water Commission.

Work will progress from east to west, and portions of Fillmore Street will be closed to traffic on a rolling basis during the entire construction period. Workers will dig a trench for the new pipe, which will require tearing up the roadway.

However, according to an intergovernmental agreement signed by the village of Oak Park in 2015, the commission will completely rebuild Fillmore Street from Austin Boulevard to Maple Avenue, including new curbs and gutters, driveway aprons and alley returns, parkways and handicap-accessible sidewalk ramps at intersections.

Once work reaches Maple Park, the plan is to bore a hole for the new pipe under the park all the way to the west side of Harlem Avenue. Once on the other side, excavation will again begin, all the way to Hannah Avenue.

In Forest Park, Fillmore Street is paved with brick. According to Klass, the village wants it to remain a brick street, so the roadway will have to be painstakingly removed and then replaced by hand. 

The village of Oak Park is also planning some of its own improvements while the water main work progresses through the village.

No additional municipal infrastructure improvements are planned in the Forest Park construction zone, Klass said.