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The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) announced that blasting operations for the construction of the intake shaft of the Albany Park Stormwater Diversion Tunnel Project are now complete. The blasting at the outflow shaft in River Park was completed in March. The two 150-foot deep shafts will be connected by a mile-long tunnel bored under Foster Avenue to move excess storm water to the North Shore Channel, which has a greater capacity to hold the overflow than the North Branch of the Chicago River.
“We’re pleased that the blasting has been completed and the project is moving ahead on schedule,” CDOT Commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld said. “The tunnel underneath Foster Avenue is more than halfway complete and we’re starting to work on the channel that will allow overflow from the North Branch to flow into the intake shaft.”
Albany Park has experienced two major floods since 2008 that have affected hundreds of homes in the northwest side community along the North Branch of the Chicago River. After the last round of flooding in April 2013, Mayor Rahm Emanuel directed CDOT and the Metropolitan Water and Reclamation District (MWRD) to move forward with design and engineering of a stormwater diversion tunnel that would alleviate the threat of catastrophic flooding. The completed tunnel will have the capacity to divert 2,300 cubic feet of water per second.
A tunnel boring machine, installed at the outflow shaft earlier this year, has excavated just over half the tunnel which is expected to be finished later this year. Work is underway to connect the intake shaft to the river bank at Foster, just north of Springfield Avenue. Work is also beginning on improvements at Eugene Field Park.
“The progress made on the Stormwater Diversion project has been a relief for Albany Park and its residents,” said Alderman Margaret Laurino. “Now the blasting is complete, we’re one step closer to ‘flood-proofing’ our community.”
The project is expected to be complete on schedule by May, 2018. Improvements at Eugene Field Park at the western end of the tunnel include landscaping, new trees, a new walkway, bench and a water fountain.
River Park, at the east end of the project, will also be significantly improved. The City is building a new regulation size baseball field and diamond, complete with backstop fence, batter cage, and also a soccer field. There will also be landscaping and trees planted at River Park.
This project has been coordinated by CDOT and the MWRD using federal, state, and local funds.