Tollway to provide millions for creek restoration near Warrenville
A stretch of creek that runs through Blackwell Forest Preserve near Warrenville likely will be restored, thanks to a contribution of up to $11.18 million from the state tollway authority.
Commissioners with the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County are scheduled to vote Tuesday on an intergovernmental agreement with the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority to restore up to 2½ miles of Spring Brook Creek.
If approved, the tollway will contribute the money to mitigate construction impacts associated with rebuilding the Central Tri-State Tollway.
"Thank you to all of the people that worked together to get to this point," forest preserve President Joseph Cantore said in a written statement. "This project aligns perfectly with our mission ..."
In 2015, the district completed a restoration of more than a mile of the creek through St. James Farm after getting a $2 million contribution from the tollway. The new work will pick up where the previous project left off.
The plan is to do the work in two phases.
The first is expected to cost roughly $8 million and include roughly 1½ miles of the creek from Winfield Road to a pedestrian bridge west of Silver Lake.
As part of the work, the creek will be reconfigured to replicate a more natural, meandering stream. There also will be shoreline improvements and wetland restoration. In addition, nonnative species and invasive plants will be removed.
The pedestrian bridge and another bridge will be replaced during the first phase. A water control structure also will be removed.
Erik Neidy, the district's director of natural resources, said a decision on whether to pursue the final phase will be made later.
"We don't know what is going to be needed in terms of mitigation for the construction project the tollway is doing," Neidy said. "If additional river restoration is required, it's already accounted for in the agreement."
The final phase calls for the enhancement of a roughly 1-mile stretch of Spring Brook Creek that goes past the Urban Stream Research Center and connects with the West Branch of the DuPage River. One bridge would be replaced as part of the work.
Neidy said the estimated cost of the final phase is roughly $3 million.
Meanwhile, the total cost of both phases for the forest preserve district would be $21,880 for permit fees.
Neidy said the project is "a great opportunity."
"We're very fortunate to have this type of partnership with the tollway," he said. "It's not likely to end here. It's likely that we will have great projects in the future between the forest preserve and the tollway."
Tollway Chairman Robert Schillerstrom said in a statement that the agency is dedicated to protecting and enhancing the environment as it reconstructs and improves roads during its Move Illinois capital program.
"By working cooperatively with the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County," Schillerstrom said, "we can help restore Spring Brook Creek to a more natural condition that will help improve water quality, create habitat for more native fish species and provide additional opportunities for hikers and fisherman to enjoy the beauty of this area."
The project will be coordinated by the forest preserve district.
The earliest construction could begin is in the fall.
The first phase is expected to be completed by the end of 2019. If there's another phase, it would be completed in 2020.