By Anna Lothson
Oak Park has found a way to undergo some road construction projects and find potentially long-term savings by using concrete on a case-by-case basis instead of asphalt.
Village Engineer Jim Budrick spoke at the village board meeting Monday to explain the logistics of Oak Park's recently approved roughly $2.7 million in street and sewer upgrades that will occur across town. The scope of the project consists of 18 blocks, roughly 2 miles, which means upgrading streets and replacing curbs on a majority of the blocks. Oak Park received a bid from Chicagoland Paving Company for $1.57 million but Oak Park decided to remove two blocks of the street to fit with its capital improvement budget, leaving the project at $1.42 million.
Two contracts were awarded Monday evening, which consisted of the local street resurfacing projects and the other was for water and sewer improvements. The water and sewer plans will have five blocks done, with two of those areas being done with concrete.
"These blocks need to be completely reconstructed due to the underground utility work that is taking place. We bid the job with the alternative of using concrete and felt this was a good alternative in the long term," Budrick wrote in an email.
Long term savings could mean $10,000 per street project because concrete has higher longevity than asphalt.
Trustee Ray Johnson expressed concern about removing two blocks for this year's plan, citing how streets left out last year didn't bode well for residents. He asked if there was room to look elsewhere in the budget to compensate this.
Budrick said the blocks removed this year don't affect as many residents and said the village realistically may not have time to get to them. (See the chart below for what streets will be seeing upgrades).
Trustee Colette Lueck also chimed in to ask how the village determines what streets need to be renovated and Wielebnicki said the village sticks to a management plan where his staff determines the longevity of each road in the village and its underlying infrastructure, such as sewer and water pipes.
Questions were raised about why the village uses concrete as opposed to a more permeable material. Asphalt and concrete are about equally effective, Budrick said, but concrete results in long-term savings. In terms of other permeable materials, the village is already constructing more "green alleys," but overall the longevity of such materials is not as high quality yet to justify doing all of the village's upgrades in a similar matter, according to Budrick.
The other major capital project approved Monday was roughly $1.3 million to Geradi Sewer and Water Company for water and sewer main improvements. Geradi gave the lowest bid on the project. Oak Park used a competitive bid process for both the streets and sewers projects. The bulk of the project includes replacing water mains on and sewer main lining near Taylor (From Ontario to Erie); Highland (Harrison to Jackson); Van Buren (Cuyler to Harvey); Scoville (Roosevelt to Filmore) and Grove (Harvard to Garfield).
The breakdown of costs for each water main includes: $387,337 for the Ridgeland Common Water Main, $40,000 for consultant contract work for water main rehab and $349,080 for water main rehab projects under I-290.
NOTE: A previous version of this article had errors that have since been corrected. The person speaking at the board meeting was Village Engineer Jim Budrick, not Public Works Director John Wielebnicki. Also, the village is not using strictly concrete for the projects. Instead, concrete is used on select project and used on a case-by-case basis. The Journal acknowledges and regrets these errors.