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Time and TIF affect timeline for Main Street water main project in Normal

Normal City Manager Pam Reece.

The Main Street Water Main project is big, more than 5,000 feet in length. Two stretches of Main Street would see pipes replaced —between Division Street and Virginia Avenue, and from Beaufort Street to College Avenue.

Normal City Manager Pam Reece said that's just shy of a mile.

"We're replacing really old four-inch and six-inch cast iron pipe with eight-inch and 12-inch ductile iron pipe, making it much much bigger in a different material. In addition, replacing fire hydrants and valves and everything," Reece said on WGLT's Sound Ideas.

The Normal Town Council approved the nearly $4 million project earlier this week, awarding the bid to Bloomington-based George Gildner Inc.

Reese said the town needed to go ahead even though bids came in 51% higher than expected.

"Main Street is part of the Illinois Department of Transportation five-year improvement plan. So, we definitely want our water main work and all of our underground infrastructure work improve before ... improvements on the street," said Reece.

One reason the bids came in higher than expected, she said, is the state wanted some changes to technical areas of the project, adding there's no guarantee waiting and re-bidding the project would result in savings.

"We had two bidders on the project. Both of them bid very close to each other. So we're confident in the bids," said Reece.

Reese said the town can handle the unexpected expense by using a development tool to recoup costs over a period of years, a Tax Increment Financing District.

"It's within a TIF and there will be funds available in the TIF to reimburse the water fund for the amount that's over budget," said Reece.

The TIF accumulates funds by setting aside tax money in the amount of the growth of the property value within the district. The tool usually stimulates private business growth. But Reece said the town also used TIF funds when it replaced water and sewer lines in Uptown during that lengthy revitalization project.

"This is qualified because it is a public investment of a utility that serves that area," she said.

With supply chain delays, the contractor estimated work on the water main project could start at this time next year and finish in the spring of 2024.

WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.
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