Mike Claffey 312.744.0707 | Michael.Claffey@cityofchicago.org
Susan Hofer 312.742.2006 | Susan.Hofer@cityofchicago.org
Mayor Rahm Emanuel joined Alderman Margaret Laurino (39th Ward) and the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) in celebrating the recognition by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) of the Albany Park Stormwater Diversion Tunnel – a project that has alleviated the threat of catastrophic flooding in the area.
"Residents no longer have to live with the looming fear of a life-disrupting flood because this tunnel protects them against that threat,” said Mayor Emanuel. “We are gratified that ASCE recognizes these types of investments in our infrastructure are critical to the future of Chicago. It represents an ongoing commitment to improving our neighborhoods and enhancing the quality of life for our residents.”
The Albany Park tunnel project, built by CDOT, is to be recognized by the ASCE Illinois Section as the 2018 Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement for a project between $25 million and $100 million at the group’s annual gala tonight. The ASCE said: “The $70 million Albany Park Stormwater Diversion Tunnel completed this past summer provides much needed relief to the flood-prone Albany Park neighborhood in Chicago. Paired with restoration improvements to Chicago Park District parks at the inlet and outlet sites, this project will improve neighborhood aesthetics, property values, and the overall quality of life for Albany Park residents.”
“The people of this community know that this award winning project has already protected them from flooding. The quality of life improvement this project provides for these residents cannot be overstated,” said Alderman Laurino.
“CDOT appreciates the recognition for the Albany Park tunnel project and we applaud the Illinois Section of the ASCE for all they do to highlight the important work carried out by so many dedicated civil engineers across the state,” CDOT Commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld said. “Watching the tunnel actually divert potential flood waters earlier this year was gratifying to all of us at CDOT, knowing that this community was safe from potentially devastating floods.”
Scheinfeld also congratulated the outgoing Illinois Section President Dhooli Raj on her successful tenure as head of the organization and said she looks forward to working with the Section’s President-elect, John G. Green.
CDOT has been awarded an Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement Award in five of the last six years. In addition, in 2017, CDOT’s Deputy Commissioner and Chief Engineer Dan Burke was honored as Government Civil Engineer of the Year.
The Albany Park Stormwater Diversion Tunnel transfers overflow water from the North Branch of the Chicago River through a tunnel dug under Foster Ave. In essence, the tunnel serves as a second river making sure that the above ground channel doesn’t overflow and flood neighborhoods like Albany Park. The inlet from the River is at a bend in the river in Eugene Field Park just east of Pulaski Road. The water flows east and exits a mile away at River Park just south of Foster Avenue into the North Shore Channel.
In the spring, the tunnel kicked into operation four times even before the project was complete, preventing neighborhood floods. The tunnel first activated on May 3, when the water level reached the intake channel. It diverted a flow of over 1,000 cubic feet of water per second, bypassing Albany Park and emptying into the North Shore Channel at the outlet shaft at River Park just south of Foster Avenue.
The storm water tunnel was a joint project by CDOT and the Metropolitan Water and Reclamation District (MWRD) made possible through federal, state, and local funds.
In addition to the tunnel, the project added improvements to Eugene Field Park at the western end of the tunnel, including landscaping, new trees, a new walkway, benches and a water fountain, and improvements to River Park at the eastern end of the project, including landscaping, new trees, a new soccer field and a new regulation-sized baseball field and diamond with a backstop fence and batting cage.
Since 2008, Albany Park experienced two major floods that affected hundreds of homes in the northwest side community along the North Branch of the Chicago River. After the last round of serious flooding in April 2013, Mayor Emanuel pledged the city would address the problem in a comprehensive way and directed CDOT to move forward with design and engineering of a drainage tunnel. The $70 million project was responsible for producing approximately 250 construction jobs.
Mayor Emanuel first began working on this issue when he served as U.S. Congressman, representing the Illinois's 5th congressional district that included Albany Park.