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DeKalb County residents to weigh in on $2 million bridge replacement

DeKALB – A proposed $2 million bridge replacement project that may disrupt the spawning area of a threatened species will begin next spring pending the approval of DeKalb County residents.

The DeKalb County Highway Department plans to undergo a $2 million bridge replacement project where McNeal Road crosses the Kishwaukee River is planned to start next spring and wrap up before winter, DeKalb County Engineer Nathan Schwartz said.

Schwartz said the timeline will be weather dependent.

“It will most likely depend on mother nature,” Schwartz said. “If we get a wet spring like this, they will get a late start.”

The project will require tearing down the bridge and rebuilding it.

The upcoming demolition and construction will happen over the Kishwaukee River in an area where the threatened gravel chub fish has been spotted in the past, according to a public notice from the DeKalb County Highway Department. The gravel chub is a 2-to-4-inch fish found in northern Illinois, according to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

To proceed with the project, the county will have to get permission from the IDNR, which will normally act in accordance to public comments, Schwartz said. The highway department has published a conservation plan outlining the precautions to minimize the possibility of killing or damaging the species in accordance with the IDNR.

“Just in case a fish happens to get caught in the construction activities – just in case one dies – we need to get permission,” Schwartz said.

The conservation plan is available for viewing at the DeKalb County Highway Department, 1826 Barber Greene Road. All comments concerning the project should be submitted by mail to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Incidental Take Coordinator at 1 Natural Resources Way, Springfield, IL 62702, or by email at before Aug. 8.

Construction along the Kishwaukee River in in-stream areas will be buffered by cofferdams, which will separate everything in the river from the work area, according to the conservation plan. In-stream work will be avoided entirely during the gravel chub’s primary spawning season in the late spring and early summer.

Schwartz said he plans to set up a public hearing in the coming months so residents can express their concerns before the Aug. 8 deadline to submit comments to the IDNR. He expects a response from the IDNR in time to begin receiving bids in October.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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