A project to connect North Main Street to the downtown square and improve roads is running into some additional expense.
The city council has agreed to spend an additional $50,000 to install a sprinkler system and engineers expect there will be a need to install a new 10-inch water main that could cost around $200,000.
Jim Burke of Hutchison Engineering said the cost of installing new sprinklers to water the sod around North Main Street is based on the need for a separate system to be rigged because the distance from an existing system in the square is too far.
“In order to install it down there we need to have separate water service, separate controller and piping system. We’ll also have to do a little electric work,” Burke said. “We can’t use those pieces from downtown.”
The irrigation system was omitted from the original plan to cut costs, given that much of the vegetation being planted — prairie grasses and trees — could handle dry weather. The sod is the only thing that would benefit from being watered regularly, and Burke said “there’s a lot of sod.”
An irrigation system can also not be paid using Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program funding, so the city will have to look in its budget to cover the cost.
Aldermen said they felt it would be worthwhile and fairly maintenance free once installed. It would also save some money by not requiring city workers to spend a day each week watering the lawns.
“Frankly, I think it should look as good as the downtown because it’s part of that project,” said Alderman Bill Scott.
The council agreed to install the system, just in time as some landscaping work is expected to begin within a couple of weeks.
Burke also said engineers are beginning to look into replacing a 10-inch water main that runs from the northwest corner of the square along North Sandy Street.
Burke said the main in place is in bad condition and one leak was found during the project. He said there’s some options that the city could pursue, but the utilities department was looking into potential costs.
Mark Sorrill of Benton & Associates said he expected it could cost up to $200,000.
“[Utilities Superintendent Jack Cosner] figures the money is going to have to come out of his budget, where he doesn’t even have it,” Sorrill said. “We’re looking at a couple of things for next year we may not do.”
Cosner is expected to give the city a further outline once more details become clear. This is a less pressing issue for the North Main project, as North Sandy Street is not being improved, except for the intersection at Douglas Avenue, which will come later.
The North Main Street project went to K.E. Vas for a $3.29 million bid — well under the engineer and Illinois Department of Transportation project estimate of $3.9 million.
Cody Bozarth can be reached at 217-245-6121, ext. 1223, or on Twitter @JCnews_Cody.