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  • David A.F. Sweet

Burr Oak Area Project Poised to Reduce Flooding for Residents

By David A. F. Sweet Back in 2019, the City of Lake Forest identified the Burr Oak Area Storm Sewer Improvement Project as the highest priority storm-sewer improvement within the city. The Burr Oak Area is on the northern limits of Lake Forest off of Western Avenue and is comprised of condominiums, houses and shops. We spoke with Engineering Assistant Bernard Pondexter -- who will lead the team involved with the work on the ground -- about the project, which is slated to start on Monday, May 2. How will this project help alleviate flooding in the area?

It will greatly help to reduce flooding by upsizing existing underground storm sewer sizes and by installing a new underground stormwater detention system called StormTrap.

Bernard Pondexter has overseen many City of Lake Forest major construction infrastructure projects during his 16-year tenure. What is StormTrap, and how will it help?

It is a unique/newer technology the City is using for this project. This is a proven system – to be installed in Lake Forest for the first time -- that will hold up to 847,200 gallons of stormwater during heavy rainfall. During even heavier rainfalls, City staff can manage the StormTrap’s stormwater discharge to lessen impact on the ravine. How is the City trying to minimize the impact of construction on residents? There have been numerous meetings with City staff from many different departments, the project design team, and the project contractor to find ways to minimize impacts. In addition, the City’s project team and communications manager have developed a detailed project communications plan, and they meet weekly to review it. Each major project phase is supported by communications methods to share anticipated impacts. These include a project webpage (, a weekly construction flyer, project area signs and letters -- just to name a few! How much will the project cost?

The project is partially funded by a $2.75 million grant from the Lake County Stormwater Management Commission (SMC) and the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity (DCEO). We're grateful to SMC and DCEO for helping making this project possible. The total project cost is estimated at $5.3 million.

How long is the project likely to last?

Project construction is anticipated to last 5–6 months (weather permitting). Work is anticipated to begin the first week in May and should hopefully conclude by mid-October.

What will be some challenges your staff will need to overcome?

With any major construction project, weather can sometimes be a challenge that we cannot control. In addition, managing some expectations with major construction can also be challenging at times. In general, there is going to be increased noise, increased truck traffic, construction equipment and dust in the area. We are going to communicate project impacts with residents and business owners and will do our best to continue to try to mitigate any unnecessary impacts.

What is your experience with these kinds of major projects? I have been working with City of Lake Forest for 16 years and have overseen mostly all the City’s major construction infrastructure projects and commercial developments in that period. During any project, I take great pride in working closely with residents, businesses and the project contractor to ensure a successful project outcome.

I’d like to offer a huge thanks to all the residents and business owners in the area who have been patient in waiting for this project to come to fruition. A huge thanks to all those residents, business owners, and visitors for their understanding and patience as the project is being constructed.

Anyone interested in the Burr Oak Area Storm Sewer Improvement Project should check, where you can sign up for eNotify text and email alerts and check continually updated project information. Also, watch the project overview video to learn more about the timeline, construction impacts, StormTrap technology and more.


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