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Business claiming flooding woes because of IDOT construction

A picture of the flooding outside of Jax's Auto and Tire on 5220 S. Route 31.
A picture of the flooding outside of Jax's Auto and Tire on 5220 S. Route 31.

A Prairie Grove business owner said he has had flooding problems on the property after the reconstruction of a nearby intersection done by the Illinois Department of Transportation years ago.

Jack Shields, owner of Jax’s Auto and Tire, on 5220 S. Route 31, said every time there are heavy rains, his business is flooded all the way around the building as it cannot drain out front.

“We’re constantly under fear that every time it floods, we’re going to have a disaster,” Shields said.

When IDOT redid the intersection by Jax’s, the construction, such as raising the road, made it so water from across the street now flows to Jax’s, with nowhere to go, said Jeff Danca, the landlord who owns the property.

“I’m on a moat when it rains,” Shields said.

The reconstruction of Route 31 and Route 176 was started by IDOT in 2012 to add capacity and improve safety, IDOT spokesman Guy Tridgell said in an email. The project was finished in 2015.

Jax’s flooding problem has been commented on by customers, Shields said, and led to a loss of his equipment because water got into the building.

“I’ve redecorated in there,” Shields said. “It’s thousands of dollars in damages if [water] gets in there. I can’t have it.”

When Danca and Shields reached out to the IDOT Region 1 engineers about the problem, the engineers said they needed to get a dry well to handle the water. Danca asked the engineers to install the dry well, but Region 1’s response was that it cannot install structures for private property.

A recent estimate given to Danca was that it would be $7,500 for a drywell. Danca said he might need two.

Both Shields and Danca said they are unsatisfied with the agency’s response.

Santos Batista, an engineer for Region 1, attributed the flooding problem to the property being in what he called a “low-lying area,” which normally retains water and experiences flooding.

“Historically, that area was wet before our project,” he said.

Batista said IDOT engineers have met with the property owner “multiple times” to try to fix the issue.

“We’ve worked with him to reinstate the system back to its original condition,” he said. “I understand he still has an issue. It’s on his property. [It’s] not IDOT’s doing.”

A future project reconstructing Route 31 from the intersection of Routes 31 and 176 up to Route 120 could help with the flooding, Batista said, as it might be able to connect Jax’s low spot to the sewer system on Route 31.

However, Shields said they have been dealing with this issue for four years now.

“We can’t wait that long,” he said.

When Danca and Shields went to a recent Prairie Grove Village Board meeting, they were told by village officials that although the situation was unfortunate, the right of way was IDOT’s, so it is the agency’s responsibility to fix the issue.

“We’re kind of on our own,” Danca said.”Since we didn’t cause the problem, we’d like IDOT to take care of it.”

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