The big hole in the ground at Church and Benson this week. (Jennifer Fisher photo)

Remember the main. Not the “Maine,” the battleship whose sinking led to the Spanish-American War.

This main is a 30-inch water main, under some downtown Evanston streets.

A city contractor has been working to rehab part of the main, and replace other portions since late February.

Now, Sat Nagar, Evanston’s senior project manager for the water main project, tells Evanston Now that the intersection of Benson and Church should be cleared by Monday, and the construction-related single lane restrictions should be lifted.

It’s supposed to be back to two lanes as before the work began.

Nagar says the water main in question dates to 1935, and is literally a “lifeline” connecting Evanston’s water filtration plant with downtown and other city water customers.

The work stretches more than 8,000 feet, from Davis and Benson, up to Sherman, and then over on Colfax to the Northwestern University campus.

A City of Evanston map issued earlier this year showing the scope of the sewer rehab project.

Some of the downtown work still needs to be completed, including from Church to Davis on Benson.

However, that is not expected to have a major impact on traffic.

Barricades divert traffic at the Church and Benson intersection. (Jennifer Fisher photo).

The $9.7 million project is financed by both state and federal funds. Some of the work involves putting in new pipe, while in other segments a liner is installed inside the main.

Nagar says all of the work should be finished by this fall. A lot of the work will stop for the summer, so as to not disrupt downtown activities while the weather is good.

The Church and Benson intersection will get a temporary roadway patch over the next few days. In September, the temporary patch will be dug up so a smaller main can be hooked in. Then the road will get permanent pavement.

The large water main has been in place for the better part of a century.

Nagar says the new and rehabbed work “will stay for the next 100 years.”

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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