Belleville Public Square reopens after three
HomeHome > Blog > Belleville Public Square reopens after three

Belleville Public Square reopens after three

Jul 24, 2023

The fountain is filled with water. The pavement is smooth and marked with freshly painted yellow striping. The barricades, chain-link fencing, orange cones and construction workers are gone.

The only remaining evidence of a $1 million project that closed Belleville Public Square for nearly three months at noon Friday was a portable toilet standing in front of the St. Clair County Courthouse.

Illinois American Water replaced water-main pipes under and around Veterans Memorial Fountain, from A Street to Washington Street on Illinois Street and from First Street to High Street on Main Street.

“Everything went according to schedule,” said Terry Mackin, the company’s director of communications, also a BND columnist. “The project started June 5, and the goal was to have it done by Labor Day.”

The timeline had been designed to avoid large street festivals such as Art on the Square in May, the Belleville Shriners Parade in June and Belleville Oktoberfest in September.

The water company replaced 1,700 feet of pipe, much of it nearly 75 years old, with new 12-inch ductile iron pipe, according to a press release announcing the project last spring.

“It had to be done,” Mackin said Thursday. “It had been delayed long enough. We were trying to be proactive and get (the pipes) replaced before there was an abundance of main brakes. There have been a few, but there hasn’t been an abundance.”

The closure temporarily eliminated a few parking spaces and required the Public Square, where Main Street and Illinois Street meet, to be blocked off to vehicular traffic.

That rerouted thousands of cars each day, including the hearse carrying former Belleville Mayor Mark Eckert on June 19. His funeral procession made a slight detour when going from St. Paul United Church of Christ to Walnut Hill Cemetery via East Main Street.

Businesses in the vicinity remained open, as did office buildings and the St. Clair County Courthouse. Pedestrian access was provided in places where the road was closed.

“I have empathy for the local businesses,” Mackin said. “I get it. It’s been a disruption. But overall, they’ve been understanding and supportive. (The Greater Belleville Chamber of Commerce) has been a really good partner, keeping people notified.”

On Friday morning, Illinois American Water released the following statement to Belleville residents:

“Our thanks to the businesses and residents in downtown Belleville. We know this project was a temporary inconvenience and disruption this summer. But the project had to be done. Putting it off was not the right answer.

“We are grateful to the leaders of the City of Belleville and St. Clair County, as well as the dedicated team at the Belleville Chamber of Commerce, for working with us. We are glad the project has been completed, safely and on schedule.”