Just like many of you, I am frustrated and angry about the work by city contractor NPL to replace the 125-year-old water main on Touhy from Western to Clark. I heard your complaints and personally witnessed the deficient work:
- Poor and unsafe quality of work sites
- Lack of work for extended periods without explanation
- Delays in completing projects in a timely fashion
Here’s what I did about these grievances. I demanded that NPL:
- Repair and apply cold patches to an unsafe stretch of Touhy west of Ridge.
- Clean up the mess at Touhy just west of Clark, and patch the unsafe roadway leading to the Metra viaduct.
- Clean up the deplorable mess at a staging area in the 7200 block of N. Oakley.
In response to my demands, NPL cleaned up the streets and applied patches to smooth out rough areas on Touhy. They also cleared out the mess on Oakley.
Last week, I called for a public hearing on the performance of NPL after learning that aldermen in the 33rd, 44th, 46th, and 47th wards also had similar complaints about NPL. Late last week, I met with the aldermen in whose wards NPL is working, plus the city’s Water Commissioner Randy Conner and Procurement Chief Jamie Rhee. We discussed the scope of the problems, and Conner and Rhee also promised to hold NPL’s feet to the fire.
On Monday this week, I met with NPL’s senior staff to discuss the problems. NPL was appropriately apologetic and promised to finish the Touhy work as quickly as possible and keep us informed along the way. Therefore, I canceled the public hearing.
Why the delays?
At Monday’s meeting with NPL, I learned that the delays occurred because other utilities had to shore up underground utility vaults before NPL could lay their water main pipe. That work is now complete at Touhy and Clark, and NPL is installing the mains there now.
Utility work is about to get underway at Touhy and Wolcott, then NPL will install the new water main at Wolcott. With the exception for the Clark and Wolcott locations, the new water mains have already been installed from Western to Clark. (NPL also is currently installing mains on Oakley, Bell and Hamilton.)
Once NPL ties in the new mains at Wolcott and Touhy, system testing can begin. NPL will push water through the new main, complete chlorination testing, and then tie in the new water mains to residences and businesses. Testing will start at Bell and proceed east to Clark.
During this final phase of construction, planned water shut-offs will be necessary to connect buildings to the new mains. NPL will provide you with a three-day advance notice before water is shut off to your home or business. In most cases, water should be shut off for no more than one-to-four hours.
Per their contract, NPL will be required to return our neighborhood to original or better condition. This includes resurfacing Touhy curb-to-curb. NPL will ensure roadway safety by applying temporary concrete caps on areas that were dug up, work which should be completed by early-to-mid August, assuming no other unforeseen problems. Complete curb-to-curb resurfacing from Western to Sheridan will follow (the exception being the stretch of Touhy recently resurfaced from Ashland-Greenview).
I thank you for your patience in this long process. And I vow to keep you posted as I receive updates and to address your concerns promptly.