With $30 million grant, Lake County prepares for 'once in a generation' flood control projects

The first round of many significant flood control projects backed by a state grant is about to begin in Lake County.

An initial award of $30 million from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity will fund 14 projects that have been prepared in anticipation.

The work list includes storm sewer and drainage upgrades, culvert replacements, construction of flood storage basins, stream bank stabilization and related work spread throughout the county.

“These are truly transformational projects for Lake County,” said Jennifer Clark, a county board member from Libertyville and chair of the public works, planning and transportation committee.

The award will be the first installment to Lake County of $122.1 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funds received by Illinois and distributed to local entities by the state commerce department.

“This is going to help the region, and we're very fortunate to be in this position,” county board member Paul Frank said.

“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity,” added Frank, who chairs the board's financial and administrative committee.

Fourteen stormwater control projects throughout Lake County will be funded with a pending $30 million state grant. Courtesy of Lake County

Lake County is not required to provide a local match for the grant funding. Project partners - mainly municipalities - will reimburse the Lake County Stormwater Management Commission for management services, engineering and temporary staffing that will include a capital programs manager to deal with an expected deluge of work.

Typically, grant funds are paid as reimbursement when projects are completed. Because of the volume, the county will get an advance of $10 million to help with cash flow to get projects started and for reimbursements.

“We have a lot of contracts pending the receipt of this grant award,” said Kurt Woolford, executive director of the commission that coordinates stormwater activities over 80 jurisdictions.

About half the initial 14 projects are ready to go. Design and permitting are in progress for the others, Woolford said.

Libertyville will be receiving more than $7.64 million for three projects involving the final phase of storm sewer improvements in the Rockland Road area and to curb flooding in the Highlands subdivision, which was inundated during storms in 2017.

Both projects are intended to significantly reduce the flooding impacts in those neighborhoods, according to Jeff Cooper, village engineer.

Sewers in those areas are undersized for modern stormwater management, he said, and roads and properties flood when they can't keep up with rain.

This summer, the village plans to install new sewers north of Rockland Road and connect them to an 84-inch-diameter trunk sewer that was installed beneath the road a few years ago.

Work in the Highlands is planned in two phases. This summer, a large stormwater detention area will be built in Nicholas-Dowden Park south of Crane Boulevard. In 2023, larger storm sewers will be installed to carry water to the new detention area, Cooper said.

Woolford said there will be three rounds of grants. The second list of projects have been identified. In August, the county plans to issue a request for project proposals for the third round.

Libertyville pursuing state grant to enhance planned improvements at Nicholas-Dowden Park

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