By Bob Uphues
Motorists planning to travel through the intersection of First Avenue and Forest Avenue/Ridgewood Road in Riverside in the coming weeks might want to consider an alternate route, if it's possible.
On Monday, Nov. 18 traffic lanes will be reduced through the intersection as workers disable the bypass pumps installed under First Avenue at the start of the years' long project to rehabilitate the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago's Salt Creek Intercepting Sewer No. 2.
The MWRD's $41 million sewer improvement project, which started in 2016, involved lining 6.2 miles of sewer that runs underneath First Avenue from 13th Street to Forest Avenue, where it branches off to the east and west into Riverside and Brookfield and eventually empties into the MWRD's Deep Tunnel system.
Access to the bypass pumps, which diverted water from areas where workers were toiling inside the 7-foot diameter pipes under Forest Avenue, is through an entrance shaft built on the east side of First Avenue just north of Forest Avenue. The shaft has been covered by steel plates in the roadway since work began.
Work on the bypass pumps is expected to take three weeks to complete, during which the northbound lanes of traffic on First Avenue will be closed at Forest Avenue. As a result, First Avenue will be reduced to one lane in either direction during the work period. In addition, the right-turn lane on westbound Forest Avenue, approaching First Avenue, will be closed to traffic.
The lane reductions are expected to cause traffic delays through the area, especially during the morning rush hour and in the afternoons when students are coming and going from Riverside-Brookfield High School, which is located just west of the intersection.
Students walking to and from school will cross First Avenue on the south side of Forest Avenue/Ridgewood Road, where crossing guards will be stationed on either side of the state highway.
The north sidewalk along Forest Avenue will be closed to pedestrian traffic between Groveland Avenue and First Avenue.