LAKEVIEW — Good news for the Southport corridor — the water main construction that started last week may be completed a couple of weeks earlier than predicted.
The Department of Water Management added a second crew to the task of repairing century old water mains along Southport Avenue in hopes of finishing up by the end of the month, said Sougata Deb, Ald. Tom Tunney (44th)'s director of infrastructure and special projects. Originally, in the best case scenario, crews would finish up by mid-April.
"The second crew was added to increase our chances of finishing by Opening Day," Deb said. "Traffic and parking is difficult enough when the Cubs are in town."
Construction started March 4 at Irving Park Road and extends toward Addison Street. Traffic has been reduced to one lane, and parking is blocked off on the east side of the street during business hours.
Factors such as weather, accidental breaks in the old water main and other unexpected issues may delay the finish time, Deb said.
Last week, for example, Blaine Elementary School students underoing ISAT testing had trouble concentrating with all the noise, so crews stopped construction in front of the school, Deb said. Later, a car drove into one of the trenches. No one was injured, but construction had to be delayed.
After water main construction finishes, an asphalt crew will grind and resurface the street.
Local retailers were looking forward to the project being wrapped up, and said they've been suffering because of a lack of parking.
Daniel Buino, owner of Klein True Value Hardware at 3737 N. Southport Ave., said he understands the work must be done, but his bottom line is still hurting.
"We had two hours where we rang up no sales at all," he said. "To be honest, it sucks."
Many customers of Dog-A-Holics, a pet product store at 3657 N. Southport Ave., walk in with their dogs instead of drive, but the store's still had bad days all week, said Candace Canty, the shop's owner. Though she was happy to hear construction might be finished ahead of schedule, she's taking a cautious outlook.
Previously, she had a store in Lincoln Park near construction that took two months longer than predicted.
"I don't believe it until I see it," she said of construction finishing.