Ameren Agrees to Repair Streets Affected by Remediation of Former Jacksonville Coke Gas Plant

By Jeremy Coumbes on July 29, 2022 at 11:04am

Work will soon begin again near the former site of a gas plant in Jacksonville. The Jacksonville City Council gave unanimous approval to an agreement with Ameren Illinois Monday night to complete work to rehabilitate portions of both Anna and West Streets.

Earlier this summer, Ameren completed the project to restore the site affected by a former coke gas plant just south of Anna Street and immediately west of the Taco Gringo restaurant. The site located at the intersection of Anna and Sandy Streets needed extensive remediation that required moving tens of thousands of tons of soil.

The project was a final phase of a voluntary cleanup program administered by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to bind up chemicals in the soil with the soil so it can’t move anywhere or leech into the town brook.

Jamie Headen with Benton & Associates of Jacksonville says it took some coaxing by the city, but Ameren has agreed to make repairs to both streets and sidewalks around the project area.

The contractor North Star pulled out maybe a little over a month ago and we haven’t seen a lot of activity since then. I think, as most people will see as they drive by, the roads are definitely needing some repair both on Anna Street and South West Street especially. They have had a lot of damage because of all of the activity.

So the Mayor’s Office and Street Superintendent Les Ballenger, and Utility Superintendent Rick Hearin have been working with Ameren trying to make the case that we need to get some road repairs done and they’ve made that case successfully. So the action taken by the council the other night was to accept the release of obligations under the environmental license agreement that they had with Ameren.

So along Anna Street and South West Street, there will be new asphalt placed. Also, the alley that kinda goes to the north off of Anna Street, those will be repaired as well. There will also be new sidewalks on the north side of Anna Street from South West over to South Main.”

In the agreement, Ameren Illinois will pay for the work totaling more than $587,000 to make the needed repairs. Headen says the remediation work has taken a toll on the area, and the city had to prove cause with Ameren in order to get the needed repairs completed.

Typically their stance is that they want to take care of replacing things that they feel that they have damaged in the process. We did have to maybe make our case a little stronger and do some detail work in showing them that the damage was done to Anna Street both to the pavement because of the heavy loading.

But also there has been two phases of the remediation, the first one being north of Anna Street right along South Main, and then the second phase which is the site they were currently working in. Once we went through those details they understood and they agreed and were being a good partner with the city in providing those funds and getting the roadways redone.”

In 2008 and 2009, Ameren completed remediation of the primary location of the gas plant, which made coke gas, a predecessor to natural gas, at the site from the mid-1800s until the early 1930s. That site is now occupied by the Ameren substation at the corner of Anna and South Main Streets.

During this latest phase, portions of the sewer had to be relocated to the south side of the project area. Headen says the remainder of that work should start within the next month at the bridge on South West Street.

He anticipates road and sidewalk work should begin sometime within the next two months and hopefully be completed by the end of summer or early fall.