SANDWICH – More than 20 Sandwich residents attended a public open house Wednesday, April 13 at City Hall to view, comment and question the city’s plans to rebuild North Latham Street beginning this month.
The project will involve the reconstruction of a one mile section of the street that extends north from the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway tracks to Sandhurst Drive.
The engineering firm on the project, Hampton, Lenzini and Rendwick, was represented at the open house by Marty Dopke, senior construction technician, Randal G. Newkirk, design engineering manager, and German Munoz, general engineer who will be working under Newkirk.
Enterprise Engineering Inc. was represented by Curt Dettmann, who also serves as the city engineer for the city.
Berger Excavating, the project contractors, were represented by senior project manager Mike Zika, who is serving as the project manager.
Newkirk said that the first stage of the project, relocating utilities, is anticipated to start within the next week. After that, Berger Excavating will start construction, likely in May.
“Our goal is to get this project completed by the Sandwich Fair,” said Newkirk. The fair is scheduled for Sept. 7-11.
Newkirk told residents he has been working on the project since the initial planning stages, trying to understand the problems and improve the street.
“We’ve been very aggressive trying to get as many federal dollars as we can,” he said. “It’s less we have to pay locally.”
Newkirk said the street rebuild will be the most expensive public works project in the city’s history. He said contractors will be improving not only the roadway, but adding a storm sewer along with water main and sanitary sewer lines.
The $3.3 million project has received around $1.8 million in federal funding. The roadwork and storm sewer will be federally funded, while the water main and sanitary upgrades will be paid for with a combination of city funds, state-reimbursed Motor Fuel Tax funds and money from the Rebuild Illinois program.
Mayor Todd Latham told residents he ran for mayor last year in part because he was tired of spilling his coffee while driving on the city’s deteriorating streets every day.
Viewing the plans, several residents expressed concerns about access to their driveways during construction.
“You might leave in the morning with your driveway intact, and you’ll get home, and it’s gone,” said Dopke.
Dopke assured residents, however, that they would make sure everyone still has access to their homes throughout construction.
“We’ll make it as painless as possible,” said Dopke. “There will be inconveniences, but at the end, you’re going to end up with a better driveway.”
“You might have the best street in town when we’re done with this,” Latham added.
“Without a doubt,” said Dopke.
Dopke said that everyone with driveway access to Latham Street would be getting a new section of driveway from the sidewalk to the street, and possibly a new sidewalk, depending on the state it is in.
Jerry Osland, a resident and excavating contractor who also serves on the DeKalb County Board, raised questions about the separation distance of water and sewer lines.
Newkirk assured Osland that water and sewer service lines would be ten feet apart.
Resident Gene Westerberg and several other residents who live along Latham Street voiced concerns about storm water flow and current standing water issues.
Newkirk told residents that standing water and improper drainage are something they have become very aware of while surveying the land, and reiterated that the new storm sewer that will be installed as part of the project is intended to ease the problems.
“We took a good, long look when we were designing this to make sure that water was moving and that everything was going to drain for this project, because that was a big issue we saw,” Newkirk said.
City Clerk Denise Li, who also lives on North Latham Street, voiced concerns about the elevation of the completed roadway. She said her house, which was part of her grandfather’s farm, was built in 1956 and North Latham Street has been built up over the years, while her house sunk and is now below street level. She asked the panel if the street would be lowered back to its original height.
Newkirk said the plan was to maintain the street’s current elevation by tearing up the current pavement and stone down to the clay and soil, then injecting a cement stabilizer, and rebuilding the road to the current elevation.
Another resident voiced complaints about semi trucks speeding on the street, suggesting speed bumps be installed on the roadway to slow traffic.
Sandwich Police Chief James Bianchi said his department will be out patrolling the street, and while the current speed limit is 30 mph, there are plans to lower speed limits throughout town.
Bianchi also asked the panel who will be in charge of traffic control and security of supplies on site.
Zika told Bianchi that Berger would be in charge of traffic control and their subcontractor would take care of flagging and security at the construction site.
Osland asked the panel how the closures would be handled during construction.
Newkirk said the plan is to have northbound traffic open throughout construction, switching from side to side in congruence with phases of construction, while southbound traffic will have to be rerouted.
Source: The Daily Chronicle