Loyola Breaks Ground on Major Stormwater Abatement Project

Wednesday, October 19, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews 

Featured image: Elected officials and Loyola representatives during a Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017, groundbreaking ceremony on the Maywood campus. | Courtesy Loyola Medicine

At least a dozen elected officials and hospital representatives were on hand on Oct. 17 for the ceremonial groundbreaking of a stormwater abatement project on the site of Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood.

The project is designed to prevent the kind of flooding that happened in April 2013, when a major storm affected the Level I trauma center. Patients, ambulances, medical center employees and students had trouble accessing the campus, which is located just west of the Des Plaines River.

Since the 1990s, according to hospital officials, Loyola has had to deal with a range of complications from periodic flooding.

The stormwater abatement project will include the installation of two stormwater traps and a relief sewer beneath parking lots on First Avenue, mitigating flooding that happens on the campus’ eastern periphery.

“Each stormwater trap can hold 2.5 acre-feet of water, or about three dozen backyard swimming pools,” according to a statement released by Loyola on Oct. 17. “The stormwater will be contained until the Des Plaines River level recedes and the stormwater can slowly be released.”

The project , Loyola officials added, will benefit surrounding communities, such as Maywood, Forest Park and Broadview.

Loyola officials said that around three-quarters of the project will be funded by a $5.5 million grant provided by Cook County, along with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant Program for Disaster Relief.

“Flood waters have plagued residents and institutions for a long time,” said U.S. Congressman Danny K. Davis (7th) during the groundbreaking. “Thanks to the advocacy and hard work of Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin, in concert with myself and others, relief is on the way.”

Commissioner Boykin (1st) said that Loyola “is one of the crown jewels of the First District, and we need to protect it,” adding that the $5.5 million grant will help to ensure that those who need the hospital’s service won’t lose access during heavy rains and flooding that are becoming increasingly more common.

“Thanks to this investment, the [Loyola’s] Health Sciences Division is not only at a reduced risk of additional costly losses from flooding, but it also ensures students, faculty and staff can reliably access the roadways and facilities they need to continue their important work,” said Dr. Margaret Faut Callahan, the provost of Loyola’s Health Sciences Division.

James A. Cunningham, HUD’s Midwest deputy regional administrator, said that the federal agency’s contribution “will promote swift recovery efforts and economic resiliency in the Maywood community.”

“As a Level 1 trauma center, it is imperative that emergency crews, patients and our healthcare colleagues can get to Loyola 24/7, especially during extreme weather,” said Larry M. Goldber, the president and CEO of Loyola University Health System.

“This infrastructure investment — essentially a mini deep tunnel — will allow us to deliver exceptional, compassionate care without interruption,” he said.

Loyola tapped the woman-owned firm Berger Excavating Contractors, Inc. to provide contractor services, Smith Group JJR to provide civil engineering services and McNitt Consulting to serve as the project manager.

The abatement project, the first in a multiphase initiative, will take about a year to complete, officials said.

“Future phases call for additional stormwater traps on the south and west sides of campus,” the Loyola release explained, “as well as another relief sewer under 5th Avenue.” VFP 

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