The MWRD is working with the village of Robbins to help mitigate local flooding, restore Midlothian Creek and create recreational and economic development opportunities to strengthen and revitalize Robbins. The MWRD’s Robbins Stormwater Park and Midlothian Creek Restoration Project will help address overbank flooding through a new stormwater park and pond, along with improvements to Midlothian Creek and an overflow channel that connects to the Cal-Sag Channel. The park stems from the MWRD’s initial planning to address flooding along creek dating back to 2014. From that initial work, a series of partnerships have led to new opportunities of growth and community benefits for Robbins.
Midlothian Creek is a tributary within the Little Calumet River watershed. A large part of Robbins is within the floodplain of Midlothian Creek on top of historical wetlands. The flat terrain compounded by a lack of stormwater infrastructure has led to frequent flooding and caused pollution into the waterways. The banks of the creek have eroded with invasive vegetation that diminishes diversity and native pollinator habitats.
Completed in two phases, the proposed stormwater improvements extend along Midlothian Creek and east of Kedzie Avenue from around 139th Street on the south to the Cal-Sag Channel on the north. The first phase of the project involves the establishment of a diversion channel. A culvert will be constructed under 135th Street, where the diversion channel will connect to a stormwater pond. Three drop structures will control flow from the stormwater pond to the diversion channel and Cal-Sag Channel. Stone armoring will be installed along the diversion channel waterline.
As construction of the diversion channel is underway, work will begin on the second phase, which includes the stormwater park and pond and conveyance improvements along Midlothian Creek. The MWRD will stabilize 2,200 linear feet of streambank along Midlothian Creek, controlling erosion by cutting back both banks and providing a stable slope that features native plants appropriate to the moisture and soil conditions. The 18-acre flood-control pond will be constructed east of Kedzie between 135th and 137th streets and north of Midlothian Creek. The Robbins Stormwater Park will allow for a naturalized wetland detention area along with channel improvements to resemble a park-like setting in central Robbins.
Bioswales will be planted along Spaulding and Sawyer Avenues from 137th to 139th streets, capturing stormwater runoff. A rain garden will also be installed in the 138th Street right-of-way between Sawyer and Kedzie avenues to absorb more runoff from the bioswales and surrounding area before it can discharge into Midlothian Creek. In total, the rain garden will create more than two acres of bioretention, collecting runoff and other contaminants before it can reach the creek.
The estimated construction cost of the two phases is $20 million and is being paid for by the MWRD with support from Cook County via Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery funds, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation's Chi-Cal Rivers Fund.
The Robbins Stormwater Park and Midlothian Creek restoration will increase the existing stormwater drainage system from less than a 5-year storm level of protection to a 100-year level of service. As a result, the project will remove approximately 140 acres from the flood plain, protect 92 structures and remove more than 1,300 parcels from the 100-year floodplain. The project will also bring about increased awareness for the watershed, provide critical drainage for an area with no existing stormwater infrastructure, promote green infrastructure and maintenance, improve local water quality and attract further housing, transportation, recreation and economic development opportunities.
For its vision, the Robbins Master Plan, developed by Donohue & Associates and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, received the Illinois Chapter of the American Planning Association’s Strategic Plan Award in 2017. Following that success, the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) selected Robbins as one of 34 projects to receive planning support through the agency’s Local Technical Assistance (LTA) program to assist the community through increased livability, sustainability and economic vitality. Partnering with the MWRD, the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) and village of Robbins, CMAP chose the Robbins project to implement a plan that addresses better stormwater management, increased economic development, and improved quality of life for residents, businesses and visitors to the village. The initiative also garnered a Chicago Community Trust grant that allowed engineers and planners from the MWRD and University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs to hold a series of public meetings and workshops with Robbins residents to envision how the Robbins park could provide recreation and a critical tool to combat flooding.
The MWRD and Village of Robbins plan to break ground on the project in summer 2022 and complete it in 2024.