News Local/State

Bids Invited For Work On New Boneyard Improvement Project

The Boneyard Creek, seen from Hickory Street on the north side of Champaign.

The Boneyard Creek, seen from Hickory Street on the north side of Champaign, part of the section slated for flood control improvements this year. Jim Meadows/Illinois Public Media.

Flood control and beautification measures along the Boneyard Creek have had a dramatic impact on Champaign’s Mid-town and Campustown areas over the last several years. Now, the city is calling for construction bids on the first phase of work on the Boneyard in the north end.

The project’s official name is Phase D of the Boneyard Creek North Branch Improvements. The phases are being constructed in reverse alphabetical order, with C, B and A to come later. Phase D follows the creek from Neil Street near I-74 to Market Street. The east side of Neil Street marks the location of what is, effectively, the origin of the Boneyard. There is a further stretch of the creek upstream, which is diverted just west of Neil through an underground culvert, north to the Saline Branch

The project manager for the Phase D Boneyard Project is Assistant City Engineer Eleanor Blackmon with the city of Champaign’s Public Works Department.

“We will be reworking the Boneyard Creek channel, replacing culverts under each road crossing, adding detention at Bristol (Park), which is near Market and Bradley, and rebuilding a new Bristol Place Park in that area,” said Blackmon. “We’ll also be adding detention at the Human Kinetics (Park) property, just north of Walnut Street, where the Park District’s new Martens Center will be coming in a couple of years.”

The new culverts will be installed where the Boneyard flows underneath Bradley Avenue and Market, Champaign and Hickory Streets. Detention measures at Bristol Park will include a small pond and waterfall, and additional dry overflow areas along the creek’s route. A dry basin will be installed at Human Kinetics Park, which is located along the edge of the creek, about two blocks north of Bristol Park.

Blackmon said the overall effect will be similar to the improvements made to the Boneyard along Second Street between Springfield and University Avenues in 2010.

“A little sleeker, a little more modern looking, but in a similar vein,” said Blackmon in describing how the improvements would look. “So we’ll have a multi-purpose trail the whole length of this. We’ll be using native vegetation along the streams. We will have the stone columns at focal points with lighting along the trail.

On a practical level, the improvements to the Boneyard are intended to control flooding along the creek. Blackmon said for years, recurring floods in part of the Bristol Place neighborhood near the creek were enough for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to place it within their 100-year flood plain. She said the creek improvements, along with new Bristol Place construction that will raise the overall ground level, will eliminate that risk.

The city of Champaign has set February 21st as the due date for bids from construction firms to work on this phase of Boneyard improvements. Blackmon said construction will start this spring and be finished by year’s end. Future phases will construct additional improvements on the Boneyard, downstream to University Avenue.

Boneyard Creek is a 3.3-mile-long stream that flows through Champaign, the University of Illinois campus and Urbana, until it joins the Saline Branch of the Salt Fork Vermilion River. Parts of the stream are highly channelized; others parts, especially in the Campustown area, run in culverts underneath buildings and sidewalks.