13th, 14th streets in DeKalb to undergo water main replacement this summer

Thirteenth Street work started Monday, resulting in Littlejohn Elementary school bus delays

DeKALB – Water main replacement projects on two DeKalb streets will soon begin, after the DeKalb City Council on Monday voted to approve the plans.

Water main replacement will also occur on 14th Street.

The council voted, 7-0, to approve multiple bids totaling $113,400 for water main replacement construction engineering during its meeting Monday. Third Ward Alderman Tracy Smith was absent.

The North 13th Street project – which would not exceed $51,500 in construction engineering costs and would replace 2,800 feet of water main on the road between Clark and Sycamore Roads – is one of two big water main replacement projects slated to begin this summer, said DeKalb City Manager Bill Nicklas. He said Fehr Graham Engineering & Environmental, based out of Freeport, won the bid for the project.

“Obviously, that’s not just for design,” Nicklas said. “A good part of that is for the actual construction supervision.”

The council also approved a $61,900 construction engineering bid to Fehr-Graham for 3,139 feet of water main replacement on North 14th Street between Clark Street and Dresser Road.

The total expected cost for the 13th Street project would be about $225,000 and up to about $1.06 million for the 14th Street project, according to city documents.

Water main replacement has been highlighted as a priority for the DeKalb council, which on March 14 expressed unanimous support for a plan to use $1.1 million in COVID-19 relief funds to replace about 200 lead-lined water service lines for DeKalb residents throughout the city. The plan includes reimbursing homeowners a portion of the cost for replacing parts of the water lines from the water main to shutoff boxes on privately-owned property. City officials supported the plan in part because it would help relief DeKalb residents of paying for it in full.

Road construction on 13th Street in DeKalb appeared to start before 9 a.m. Monday morning. The work delayed Littlejohn Elementary School student busses to the school for the students’ first day back from DeKalb School District 428′s spring break.

Nicklas confirmed Monday the 13th Street road construction on Monday morning was related to the corresponding water main replacement bid.

Lead service line replacement is mandated under the the Illinois Lead Service Line Notification and Replacement Act, which went into effect Aug. 30, 2021. It requires Illinois water systems to begin removal of lead service lines in their respective municipalities no later than Jan. 1, 2027. The replacements are meant to minimize potential lead exposure caused by contaminated drinking water and aging pipe infrastructure. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no safe level of lead in drinking water.

“It’s just exciting, especially for the 13th and 14th Street areas,” DeKalb Mayor Cohen Barnes Monday. “Long overdue and it’s nice to be able to finally be able to start addressing a lot of this.”

Editor’s note: Information provided to the Daily Chronicle needs clarification: An earlier version of this story included a company name for the water main replacement bid that needs correcting. The company is called Fehr Graham Engineering & Environmental. This story was updated at 11:20 a.m. Wednesday, March 30, 2022.