Aurora approves contract to fill vault under downtown sidewalk – Chicago Tribune

Aurora is in the process of repairing an arch under a downtown sidewalk to keep this section of sidewalk structurally sound.

The section of sidewalk in front of 69 E. Downer Place – at the corner of Downer and Broadway – is closed for safety reasons.

City Council this week approved an expedited $103,000 contract with M/M Peters Construction of Aurora to repair the arch.

Fixing it means making sure it’s clear, building a metal frame around the arch, then filling it with gravel until it forms a base for the section of sidewalk above it.

Throughout the downtown Central Business District, the basements of various properties extend beyond the property line below the sidewalk into the public right-of-way.

These areas, called sidewalk vaults, were previously functional spaces that are no longer needed or used. The vaults are only accessible for private use but are located under municipal property designated for public use.

For many years, the city had a cost-sharing program in place with the owner of the adjacent land to fill in the front vaults or in response to any issues associated with them.

The budget for filling the vaults is limited. To qualify for the program, an owner must leave the vault and remove any private equipment.

The first step in the vault infill approval process is an assessment of the condition of the existing vault, according to city officials.

It is both an analysis of the work by the owner and a structural assessment to determine the necessary improvements.

City officials said during the assessment at 69 E. Downer Place that it was determined that immediate action was needed to avoid potential deterioration of the structural system of the sidewalk and adjacent building.

“The hope here is to get the contractor started two weeks early,” Aurora Public Works Director Ken Schroth told the city council.

To speed up the process, the city hired a structural engineer to develop a field for improvements and solicited quotes from five contractors to complete the repairs and fill in the vault.

Three of these contractors responded with repair offers. The lowest of these offers was that of M/M Peters.

Schroth said there was little danger of the sidewalk collapsing with general use, but the city closed it for safety. He said the city wants to fix the situation because in the spring and summer there are a lot of events downtown.

In addition, city-owned vehicles, such as for snow removal, occasionally drive on the sidewalk, officials said.

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