Devon to close in Edgebrook for Metra work
by KEVIN GROSS
Devon Avenue between Central and Caldwell avenues in Downtown Edgebrook will be closed beginning July 26 for Metra railroad crossing work, while work on the sewer project in Devon that has snarled traffic in the area is facing some setbacks, according to officials.
The street closure should last through Aug. 4 for inspection of the Metra railway crossing as part of regular maintenance, according to Metra spokeswoman Meg Reile. Workers will replace parts of the track and resurface the crossing if necessary.
"Part of the closure time is to do the construction, part is to let the concrete or material cure and set," Reile said. "The work is useless if cars drive over and immediately damage the surfacing, and hopefully this work will take care of this crossing for at least the next decade or so."
Work on the ongoing $5 million stormwater sewer project in Devon has seemingly stopped since Friday, July 13. Work is supposed to last through September according to Alderman Anthony Napolitano’s chief-of-staff Chris Vittorio.
The current phase of the work required tunneling under the train tracks but workers struck an unmarked Metra cable, which the city allegedly received no notice about, according to Alderman Margaret Laurino’s (39th) spokesman Manuel Galvan.
"As soon as the city workers ‘nicked’ the unmarked cable they stopped working in that tunnel," he said, noting that it’s possible the cable hasn’t been in use for years.
A water department spokswoman said that the communications cable belongs to Rogers Communications.
Reile said that Metra is investigating whether they, ComEd or another entity owns the cable, but that it could be related to train signaling and lighting. Some residents have posted on social media that lights have been malfunctioning this week.
Galvan said that the delay in the sewer project work under the train tracks shouldn’t necessarily push back the completion date for the sewer project.
"Lets say your project involves doing A, B and C. You’ve done A, for B you nicked the cable, now you do C and can come back to B," Galvan said. "The city is doing other work that has to be done around the area, and Metra is investigating and as soon as they come back to the city they operate from there."
A spokeswoman for the Chicago Department of Water Management did not have information about the delay or a possible completion date as of time of press time.
Some residents have told Nadig Newspapers that they haven’t seen any work being done and they expressed concerns how the project is affecting local businesses.
The Edgebrook-Sauganash Chamber of Commerce recently submitted a letter to aldermen Laurino and Anthony Napolitano (41st) requesting additional traffic management manpower to address concerns over the disruption brought by both the sewer and track repair projects.
"Our businesses are expressing concern about signage at the Edgebrook Metra tracks indicating that Devon Avenue will soon be closed for 10 days due to train track repairs. The Edgebrook businesses are concerned about the additional difficulties and delays this added element could add to the existing sewer-related traffic challenges," the letter said.
"On behalf of the Chamber board and the business community, we would like to request that temporary manpower be secured to help redirect and facilitate smoother traffic in the Edgebrook business district during this difficult time."
Edgebrook-Sauganash Chamber of Commerce executive director Jennifer Gatesman said the chamber continues to advocate for local business owners struggling to maintain profits through the Devon construction.
"We are encouraging people to patronize the businesses, despite the construction, because they depend on us for their livelihood," she said. "We hope everyone will continue to be patient and support these businesses that are essential to the character of our community."
The sewer project is expected to reduce flooding in the Edgebrook area bounded by Caldwell Avenue to the north, Le Mai Avenue to the northwest, Tahoma and Hiawatha Avenues to the south, and Wildwood Avenue to the southeast. Work on the 8-month project began in December.