NEW CHICAGO | The first phase of New Chicago's water system improvement project is well on its way toward completion, officials said.
"We're over 50 percent complete with the project," said Gracia Dudlicek, Development Visions group project engineer.
Water main work has been completed in the service area of Gary, unincorporated Lake County and Lake Station.
"We are currently doing work in New Chicago," Dudlicek said.
In addition, some 250 homes have been tied into the system and some 75 new hydrants installed, said Aaron Graham, an estimator for Gatlin Plumbing and Heating of Griffith.
The project will be put on hold in early December, when asphalt plants close, and resume in the spring. Work is scheduled to be completed in June.
"We are on schedule and maybe a little ahead of schedule," Dudlicek said.
New Chicago kicked off its water system improvement project at a groundbreaking ceremony in mid-February.
The first phase of the project represents a $6 million effort to upgrade the town's aging water distribution system, which dates to 1954, project officials said.
The first phase of improvements will include rehabbing and replacing more than five miles of new water mains, services, valves and fire hydrants.
The project includes a new metering vault and new connection to the town's water supplier, along with the upgrade of existing telemetering and control equipment.
The project is expected to enhance water quality, improve fire protection and eliminate water main breaks, town and project officials said.
The changes already have brought about improved water pressure, which means better fire protection for residents, town water manager Esta Alicia Barber said.
"Water quality wasn't a factor, but now it's even better," Barber said.
Gatlin Plumbing and Heating was the successful bidder and awarded an approximately $4.8 million contract to perform the work.
Development Visions Group Inc., of Crown Point, is serving as the town's engineer for the project.
New Chicago water works provides service to about 2,300 customers in New Chicago, Lake Station, Gary, Hobart and nearby unincorporated areas of Lake County.
The New Chicago Town Council last spring approved the project after officials received approval for a low-interest loan through the Indiana Drinking Water State Revolving Fund.
To begin paying back the loan, a 31 percent increase in the water rate was put in place June 1, town officials said.