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Naperville reopening downtown bridges as water recedes

Updated: April 19, 2013 1:10PM



Normal routine near the swollen West Branch of the DuPage River in Naperville is expected to resume fairly quickly Friday, as crews worked on the aftermath of the extraordinary rainfall earlier in the week. Officials said the four bridges that stretch over the waterway in the middle of town are being reopened this afternoon.

“The water in the downtown is receding much more rapidly than we anticipated,” City Manager Doug Krieger said just after 11 a.m.

The quickly lowering levels, he said, can be traced mostly to DuPage County partially reclosing the gates at the Fawell Dam, upstream of the city. The dam was completely opened late Thursday and was put back to 75 percent open Friday morning, Krieger said.

“It basically should reduce levels by 18 inches,” Krieger said. “That’s how much the water came up when the gates were opened, and that was why we had to close the bridges.”

Between about 4 and 11:20 p.m. Thursday, the city shut off the bridges over the river at Eagle Street, Washington Street, Jefferson Avenue and Main Street.

Krieger had estimated that the bridges would start to be reopened by mid-afternoon, likely beginning with the Main or Washington Street locations.

“We have engineers review each bridge, look at the flow, but really the most significant factor (in determining which are reopened first) is level above the water,” he said.

In addition, the Eagle Street bridge, which was the first closed down in the city core Thursday, also would be the first of them to take the impact of any trees, large felled limbs or other potentially damage-causing items yet to wash downstream.

In other parts of the city, residents were cleaning up flooded basements and awaiting scheduling commitments from flood restoration services, which reportedly were inundated with callers Thursday.

Also keeping the lines busy at the height of the storm were callers to Naperville’s public safety dispatchers, who fielded some 750 calls in the 24-hour period that began when the rain started to come down Wednesday evening.

“Between the hours of 3 and 8 yesterday, there were 124 9-1-1 calls, and 90 of them required a response,” said Linda LaCloche, Naperville communications manager, late Friday morning.

The most dire point in the ordeal, Krieger said, came late Thursday.

“Both the local rain and the upstream rain kind of concentrated in the downtown, and that was last evening,” he said.

In all, the city’s non-emergency dispatch number took 2,298 storm-related calls, LaCloche said.

As of Friday morning, 50 residents had called to say their sewers were backing up.

“It’s just the deluge of water. They’re trying to pump it in and pump it out,” LaClche said. “When you have a rain event there’s always a chance of something like that happening.”

The city’s website provides an updated map showing road closures and streets with standing water. It can be found at www.naperville.il.us. An updated page showing flood control operations is www.naperville.il.us/floodops.aspx.

“The map is continually being updated, so that’s your best source,” LaCloche said.



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