The Village of Forest Park had to rebid the contract for a sewer separation project on 15th Street between Circle and Marengo avenues after the original contractor failed to clear a legal hurdle required to work on federal projects.

The sewer separation project will replace the combined sewer system with separate water and sewer pipes, leaving more capacity for rainwater to enter sewers and reduce flooding. The project uses money from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) program. The original contractor, Uno Construction, was unable to comply with all necessary federal regulations. The village decided to rebid the project again rather than go with second-lowest bidder which was substantially higher.

The lowest bidder this time around, the Addison-based John Neri Construction, submitted a bid of $440,215. Because the grant funding is staying the same the village’s share of the cost more than doubled, going from $40,000 to approximately $106,325. Village Administrator Moses Amidei recommended accepting the bid anyway since, with inflation and supply chain issues, Forest Park isn’t likely to get a better price any time soon, and reducing flooding is a major village priority.

In 2015, the village undertook a study to determine which areas should get sewer separation. Since then, progress has been gradual. 

In the near term, the village will keep separating sewers along 15th Street. Forest Park applied for block grant funding to separate the sewers between Marengo and Elgin avenues. That project was previously estimated to cost $450,000, and Forest Park is applying for the federal funds to cover $375,000 of it.

According to Amidei’s memo to the board, the new storm sewer will be 48 inches in diameter, which will “provide an additional 350 feet by 48 inches of compensatory storage” during “large rain events.”

In 2021, Christopher Burke Engineering, the village’s project engineering contractor, estimated that the project would cost $400,000. Forest Park got $360,000 in federal funding to do the sewer separation, and the village planned to use its VIP Fund to cover the rest. Uno’s original winning bid was $392,450. Since the second-lowest bid was $112,000 higher, the village decided to rebid.

The cost estimate made as part of the rebid put the project cost at $449,963. The John Neri bid was lower than the original second-lowest bid, but higher than Uno’s original bid. The village will use VIP fund revenue to make up the difference. 

Amedei told the Review that Forest Park will continue to get as much out of state and federal funding sources as possible. But during the Sept. 26 meeting, he told the council that, the way the economy and supply chains were going, the village will probably have to dip more into its own funds for infrastructure projects.

“The costs are not going down,” he said. “Our dollars are just not going to go as far, and that’s going to shift a burden, unfortunately, on [the village] covering these costs.”