Dixon pursuing grant for $767,000 in additional cleanup work at former junkyard

Dixon Iron & Metal key piece to other improvement projects

Cleanup work takes place on Sept. 9, 2021, at the site of the former Dixon Iron & Metal Co. along the Rock River.

DIXON – The city is pursuing a federal grant to finish environmental cleanup at the former Dixon Iron & Metal scrapyard to redevelop the property.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency previously completed about $4 million of emergency cleanup at the scrapyard at 78 Monroe Ave. after contaminants were found in the soil and in the Rock River, and the city is applying for an EPA Brownfields remediation grant to address the last of the work.

The city tried for the grant last year but was unsuccessful.

The Dixon City Council had a public hearing for the grant earlier this month seeking $767,000 to remove diesel fuel mixed with polychlorinated biphenyl, or PCBs, install a barrier to fill in gaps of remaining metals, demolish structures on the property and asbestos abatement.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has completed nearly $4 million of cleanup at the former Dixon Iron & Metal Co. scrapyard, and city officials are taking the next steps in priming the property for future riverfront development.

The overall goal is to obtain a letter from the state of no further remediation, meaning the property is ready for redevelopment.

“It’s a wonderful area to be redeveloped, and it has immense potential,” said Ross Grimes, project manager at Fehr Graham Engineering and Environmental.

In 2019, the EPA began $3 million in emergency cleanup work at the site after contaminants were found going into the river, and later completed $745,000 in further remediation.

The EPA did a variety of work including excavating as deep as 19 feet in areas, providing contamination barriers and making riverbank improvements. The property had been littered with decades of junk and heavy metal contaminants.

Local officials hope to raze the remaining buildings on the former DIxon Iron and Metal yard along the Rock River in Dixon.

The riverfront property is the intersection of two major projects to expand the bike path and create a pedestrian bridge across the river, Public Works Director Matt Heckman said.

They’ve come a long way to return the property to community use, he said.

In 2016, the city received a $2 million Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program grant to extend its bike path 1.6 miles – stretching east on River Road toward Raynor Garage Doors and west along the river with a ramp to the viaducts running to Seventh Street.

The city later received $1.4 million more from the state for the project and is applying for another $2 million as project costs have grown to about $7 million.

Work could begin in May 2024 and be completed by November 2024.

Last year, the city received a $12 million Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity or RAISE program grant after several years of applying.

The project includes constructing a pedestrian bridge on the old Illinois Central Railroad piers, adding 2.8 miles of multiuse path, installing new sidewalks and crossings, and resurfacing Page Drive, which is maintained by the Dixon Park District.

The former junkyard is part of the Viaduct Point project, a partnership in which the city and the Lee County Industrial Development Association secured about 10 acres of land stretching from the Peoria Avenue Bridge to the viaducts.

The city acquired the property in 2019 through abandonment court, after about 2 years of extending a contract to buy the property while environmental tests were conducted.

Rachel Rodgers

Rachel Rodgers

Rachel Rodgers joined Sauk Valley Media in 2016 covering local government in Dixon and Lee County.