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Colfax Street will be one of the locations seeing construction work this spring in Evanston. (Photo by Adina Keeling)

Spring has sprung and there’s no surer sign of the new season in the Chicago area than the launch of major public works projects.

Construction signs, equipment and pieces of pipe 30 inches in diameter line Benson Avenue and Emerson Street as the city tackles its 2022 Transmission Main Rehabilitation Project.

This project will replace and repair parts of an 8,200-foot-long pipeline that runs beneath parts of Benson Avenue, Sherman Avenue and Colfax Street.

The 30-inch transmission main supplies water to residents and businesses in downtown Evanston. Originally built in 1936, the pipe has deteriorated significantly and needs to be rehabilitated to prevent a potential water break, according to city officials.

The city began construction early last month and aims to complete the project by next spring, though the majority of the work will be done by the end of this year.

Water main work will run through downtown Evanston. (City of Evanston image)

The project costs $9,686,118 and will be paid for by the Illinois EPA through its Public Water Supply Loan Program.

To do the work, the city hired Bolder Contractors, a Deerfield-based company that has worked with Evanston in the past to build a new water meter on Oakton Street and replace several water mains throughout the city.

Split into eight phases, the project will enter phase four next week. This will involve work along Emerson.

Large 30-inch water pipes are piled up for work along Benson Avenue. (Photo by Adina Keeling)

In an interview with the RoundTable, Sat Nagar, the Senior Project Manager at the City of Evanston, said by splitting the projects into phases, the city hopes to minimize the impact of the project on neighbors and surrounding businesses.

During each phase, the city will try to confine the work to certain areas, so that the surrounding area stays clean and parking remains available, said Nagar.

He said the city aims to complete most of its work downtown by May, when the weather is warmer and more people head to the area. The city plans to work along Sheridan Road, which borders Northwestern University, when school is not in session this summer.

Nagar described the work as a once-in-a-lifetime project.

“You do this once in 100 years,” he said. “None of us will be here the next time it’s done.”

Water main replacement work continues along Benson Avenue this spring. (Photo by Adina Keeling)

Another once-in-a-lifetime project, according to Nagar, is the Central Street Bridge Replacement Project, which is wrapping up this year.

The project, carried out by Copenhaver Construction, entered its final stage on Feb. 28.

The bridge crosses over the North Shore Channel, and was originally built in 1908. Prior to construction, the bridge neared the end of its life and needed to be replaced.

Although the project began in 2019, the city didn’t begin demolition until February 2021. By the end of that year, the south half of the bridge had been demolished and replaced.

Now, the north half of the bridge is being rebuilt. It will be completed sometime in late summer, officials said, and the project will conclude with street paving, tree planting, landscaping and restoration work in the Canal Shores Golf Course.

The project will be completely finished this fall. The bridge will be wider to accommodate golf carts, pedestrians and bikers, and new streetlights will be installed.

As that project draws to a close, the city is preparing for its 2022 Water Main Improvements project. On April 25, according to plan, the project will go to the City Council, after which city staff will work with the contractor to develop a final schedule.

Though exact dates are uncertain, the work will likely occur sometime between May and September. This project will replace water mains at the eight locations shown below:

List of projects planned for this spring in Evanston. (City of Evanston image) Credit: City of Evanston image

The city is also offering full lead service line replacements free of charge for those impacted by the project.

Neighbors will be notified when work on their street begins, and will be provided with a detailed newsletter.

Benson Avenue is one of several locations in Evanston that will see construction work this spring. (Photo by Adina Keeling)

Adina Keeling

Adina Keeling is a photojournalist and reporter, covering city news, sustainability, schools, and art. She also investigates mental health systems and environmental injustices in Evanston, and puts together...

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  1. Thank you for the article. I live near Benson and Emerson and it is great to know what’s going on!