JEFFERSON PARK — City crews are preparing to replace the more than 100-year-old sewer underneath Lawrence Avenue in Jefferson Park — and they'll have to blast their way through 200-feet of bedrock to get the job done.
Part of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Building a New Chicago initiative, the work will install approximately 2,670 feet of new sewer pipes from the Kennedy Expressway to Lavergne Avenue along Lawrence Avenue starting in mid-September and ending two months later — weather permitting, said Gary Litherland, a spokesman for the Department of Water Management.
Because crews must connect the new sewer tunnel to the city's Deep Tunnel sewer and reservoir system, they will use explosives once traditional digging equipment reaches 65 feet beneath the street, officials said.
Heather Cherone says crews don't announce blasting times for a reason:
Ald. John Arena (45th) will host a community meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Copernicus Center Annex, 5216 W. Lawrence Ave., to detail the project for residents.
To dig beneath the bedrock, crews will use controlled charges once a day to dig the final 270 feet, according to Owen Brugh, Arena's chief of staff.
The charges will be monitored by seismographic equipment to ensure they remain within a range of force, Brugh said. In addition, homes within 500 feet of the work will have to opportunity to have a video recording made of their home and possessions to ensure any damage caused by the blasts can be documented, he added.
"There will certainly be some disruption caused by the project," Brugh said.
But the biggest impact the project will have is the closure of eastbound Lawrence Avenue from the Kennedy Expressway, Brugh said.
Signs on the off ramp will alert drivers that they can not turn east from the expressway, Brugh said.
The sewer project comes at the end of a summer filled with several major construction projects on the Northwest Side, including the replacement of the area's cast-iron gas pipes with plastic pipes and the replacement of a sewer underneath Montrose Avenue just west of Cicero Avenue and on several side streets.
Next year, the sewer system along Lavergne Avenue from Lawrence to Montrose avenues will be replaced, Brugh said.
The new sewer system will have a greater capacity than the existing system, and "the area will experience better drainage and reduced flooding during heavy rains," Litherland said.
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