Prospect Heights project to address city's worst flooding area this summer
Prospect Heights officials Friday will kick off a $4 million stormwater drainage improvement project, enabled by $2.4 million in federal and state funding, to address the hardest-hit area of the flood-prone city.
The Arlington Countryside Storm Water Management Improvement will provide a permanent and more automatic prevention measure to the flooding and property damage common to the bowl-shaped, 60-acre area. The area in the westernmost part of Prospect Heights generally is bordered by Olive Street on the north, Windsor Drive on the west, Rand Road on the east and Oakton Street on the south.
Though the engineering work has been done for some time, the ability to do the project this summer comes from $2,159,745 in funding from the American Rescue Plan Act and $260,000 from Rebuild Illinois, with the city to pay the remainder.
Residents of the area regularly have sustained property damage, including to vehicles, from the way it collects water during heavy rainfalls, City Administrator Joe Wade said.
In June 2018, the neighborhood was devastated by more than 4 inches of rain that fell within two hours.
In addition to the area's topographical shape, Rand Road acts as a dam keeping water contained there. Though the Illinois Department of Transportation has allowed use of a Rand Road sewer on an emergency basis, it's with the expectation that a different, permanent solution be found, Wade said.
The project expected to be completed in September will install sewers to move water from the neighborhood's drainage basin to McDonald Creek and construct a lift station to assist at an approved rate of release.
One of the fundamentals of such an improvement is that it address the problem without causing one elsewhere, Wade said.
"It will minimize the property damage the neighborhood has experienced historically," he said. "This was chosen because we feel it's the worst area. We have other areas where there's street flooding, but that's not property damage."
Much of Prospect Heights was developed before modern stormwater management practices existed, and it's now too built out to simply retrofit the drainage infrastructure like what would be built at the beginning today.
Each of the roughly 50 problem areas of the city needs a specifically tailored solution. While many areas have been studied to identify engineering solutions, the funding to implement them remains the chief challenge.
"It's a long battle to solve all our problems," acting Mayor Matt Dolick said. "This is a critical step, but we plan to build on it."
City officials regard Friday's groundbreaking ceremony, 10 a.m. at Lions Park, as not only the start of construction but an opportunity to thank the legislative sponsors -- U.S. Reps. Brad Schneider and Jan Schakowsky, state Sen. Ann Gillespie and state Rep. Mark Walker -- for the outside funding the project received.