Elmwood Park hopes green alleys improve drainage
Pedro Are (left) and Jorge Paz with Schroeder and Schroeder work Sept. 26 on molds in a green-friendly alley along Diversey Avenue at Cressett Drive in Elmwood Park. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 5, 2012 6:45AM
ELMWOOD PARK — Some of Elmwood Park’s alleys are getting an environmentally friendly facelift.
Through an Illinois Environmental Protection Agency grant, Elmwood Park is turning four regular alleys into “green alleys.” The grant will pay for 85 percent of the $391,667 it will take to rebuild the alleys.
The alley running between 76th Avenue and 76th Court, from Wabansia Avenue to Bloomingdale Avenue, is almost complete. Construction crews are working on two alleys between Cressett Drive and Oakleaf Avenue, from 80th Avenue to Diversey Avenue.
The alley between Sunset Drive and Elm Grove Drive, from 78th Avenue to Diversey Avenue, will be the last alley redone. The project is slated for a Nov. 1 finish.
The difference between a green alley and other alleys is how water drains from it. Elmwood Park Public Works Director Dino Braglia said most of the village’s alleys are concave, with water usually draining back into resident backyards or to French drains at the end of each alley.
The green alleys are convex, bringing water to the alley’s center.
“Instead of pitching it (water) out to the street and instead of pitching it out to the sides, it will be pitched to the middle and absorbed,” he said.
Along the length of the alley, a portion will be made of concrete, but in the middle, bricks will be installed with small wash stones compacted in between. Braglia said the water will drain toward the bricks and will be absorbed into the ground.
The new alleys are designed to reduce water flow into the sewers and backyard flooding. Braglia said the project is not designed to stop flooding, but will add to the collection of water in addition to the French drains the village has.
“Now the alley is a giant French drain and will absorb the water and take the water away,” he said.
The new alleys look different, and Elmwood Park Mayor Peter Silvestri said he’s received compliments from residents.
Silvestri said the village’s alleys are old and need replacement. He hopes to put in more green alleys throughout the village every year.
“Aesthetically they look good,” he said. “We are pushing a green agenda over the next couple of years.”