DANVILLE — The last days are approaching for the almost 100-year-old Fairchild Street subway now that the Danville City Council approved the $18.4 million construction bid to replace the deteriorated structure that's been closed to traffic for months.
The council approved Tuesday night the low bid of $18,498,877 from O'Neil Brothers of Urbana.
Some aldermen and city officials expressed their relief to finally have the more than $20 million project, including all the pre-engineering work, finalized and ready for construction. O'Neil Brothers will guide the construction of an overpass that will carry Fairchild Street, one of the city's main east-west corridors, over several rail road tracks and a city street rather than underneath them as the tunnel had done for so many years.
In the last few years, city officials have applied for and received various state and federal grants that will pay for the project.
City Engineer David Schnelle said Ameren and Aqua Illinois have already begun work to relocate power and gas lines and water lines, and the actual construction project could begin as early as next month, depending on how quickly construction documents get signed. He said it already looks like a construction site with the utility companies there, and soon will get much busier as O'Neil Brothers will identify a staging site for workers and equipment. Schnelle said city engineers will be based out of the former Schomburg and Schomburg property.
The project is expected to finish in 2014. The tunnel was closed last year after inspections revealed that the deterioration of the concrete tunnel was too severe to keep it open to traffic. Schnelle said train traffic will only be minimally affected by the project at very specific times. He said that's one advantage of building an overpass rather than another tunnel is the minimal impact to the rail traffic, which could increase the length and cost of the project if train traffic were interrupted more often.
Mayor Scott Eisenhauer said this project has "certainly been a long time coming."
"I know all of us will be glad to see work start," he said.
The city council also approved a $128,150 contract with the engineering firm of Alfred Benesch and Co., which has already handled the phase one and two engineering design of the Fairchild Street overpass. This additional agreement will allow Alfred Benesch to make some final changes to the plans and also allow the city to call on the company's engineers for assistance throughout the construction phase if issues arise. The city may not spend up to the amount in the contract but needs an agreement in place, so it can call on the company for consultation. The city will use motor fuel tax dollars to pay for those services.