CHAMPAIGN — An early spring has helped keep the John Street drainage improvement project on schedule.
Champaign resident engineer Lou Braghini was celebrating another "project milestone" with the reopening of John Street just west of Prospect Avenue to Willis Avenue Friday afternoonis Avenue.
Braghini said with that two-block section of John now open to traffic, the $6.8 million project that began almost two years ago is 95 percent complete.
Even better, it's on schedule and on budget, Braghini said.
Champaign civil engineer Alex Nagy said the first phase of the project, designed to alleviate flooding along John Street, began in June 2010 at Neil and John streets and proceeded west along John to just west of State Street.
After that section was done in December 2010, the second phase of work picked up there in April 2011. It is scheduled to be done by the end of June.
Nagy said the last leg of the project turns south from John on to Willis Avenue and goes one block south to Daniel Street.
"We had some pretty severe flooding at Daniel and Willis and that whole John Street corridor. It (John Street) was an old stream creek bed that had been filled in and replaced with street and roadway and houses and an undersized pipe that was the storm sewer," Nagy explained. "When it rained heavily, the water was still finding its way back to where the old creek was."
In addition to putting in large diameter storm sewers to handle more water, the project has involved efforts to absorb water through permeable pavements and sidewalks and rain gardens.
John between Prospect and Willis reopened to traffic Friday afternoon after sidewalks were poured in a light rain Friday morning.
Periodic lane closures are expected over the next few weeks while the contractor finalizes work such as restoring lawns.
As John reopened, the intersection of Daniel Street and Willis Avenue closed Friday.
Braghini said there is still an "extensive amount" of storm sewer work to be done at that intersection.