River Forest Village Hall | Alex Rogals

As River Forest’s green alley improvement project comes to a close, the village board voted unanimously at the April 10 meeting to approve an intergovernmental agreement with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) that will provide a $90,000 grant to help fund the $2.6 million project.

The action was approved as part of the consent agenda with no discussion.

Jeff Loster, director of public works and development services, said village staff members applied last September for an MWRD Green Infrastructure Partnership Opportunity Program grant for the reconstruction of three of the remaining five alleys set to be completed this spring. 

The funds will be disbursed in four payments of $22,500. The first three payments will be paid upon receipt of reimbursement request upon completion of 25, 50 and 75 percent of the construction, respectively. The final payment will be paid upon receipt of invoices of final completion and after inspection by the MWRD.

The River Forest proposal was among 10 green infrastructure installation projects selected from 34 submittals from area municipalities, townships and other governmental agencies. 

The 10 projects represent a commitment of more than $7.6 million in estimated construction costs to bolster resilient communities throughout Cook County and spread a growing allegiance to green infrastructure initiatives to stem the tide of unpredictable rain patterns.

According to Loster, of the five alleys scheduled for construction this spring, all in the southeast corner of the village, two were expected to be opened to traffic earlier this month and a third scheduled for completion “in the next few weeks.” Work on the final two alleys were scheduled to begin by the end of April and all construction should be completed by early June, he added. 

“While we were originally planning to have two of them completed last fall, delays caused by last year’s quarry strike pushed the project schedule back a bit,” he said. “Rather than continue the work in questionable winter weather with all of the impacted residents displaced from their garages, the village opted to push two of the alleys from the fall schedule back to this spring.”

Upon completion of the current and final phase of this project, all 29 village-owned alleys will have been reconstructed with permeable components, Loster said.  

He explained that three phases of alley work were bid out in 2022, summer 2022, fall 2022 and spring 2023, with total bid numbers coming in at $2,694,535. Actual expenses are running slightly below estimates, he added.

Although the village typically reconstructs one alley per year, under the accelerated alley improvement program, four alleys were reconstructed in 2021, nine were reconstructed in 2022 and five more will be reconstructed in 2023. 

Some of these alleys experience storm water issues and some have pavement in poor condition, according to village officials. Most consist of asphalt pavement, with a few having concrete pavement. Their reconstruction is intended to provide not only a better driving surface but increased storm water mitigation. 

According to information on the village website, the typical cross section of River Forest’s new alleys involves reconstruction with concrete pavement, sloped inward toward an approximately three-foot wide strip of permeable pavers. 

The pavers allow storm water runoff to be conveyed to a stone reservoir underneath the pavement to help reduce flooding. There is also a perforated pipe within the stone reservoir which helps convey storm water away from the alley during periods of excessive rainfall.

Join the discussion on social media!