Water main breaks cause hardships in Village of Thayer

Repeated water main breaks in the original Route 66 town of Thayer, Illinois, are causing inconvenience or hardships to residents and businesses.

According to a story from the State Journal-Register in nearby Springfield, Thayer (population 661) has seen five water main breaks in the last two weeks and 19 in the past year.

The culprit is 90-year-old pipes that desperately need replacing, village president Rob McMahan said.

McMahan said that 1,100 feet of water main in the southern part of the village – along Elm, Main, and Sycamore streets – has yet to be replaced, and when those mains go down, the flow of water into Thayer is completely shut down.

“The last three streets is where the main water comes in and you have to shut the whole town down,” McMahan said. “Back when they did it, they didn’t put valves in to isolate different areas, so most of the time, the whole town’s got to be shut down to repair a water main. You can’t shut block-by-block off, it’s the whole town.”

When lines go down, the village imposes a boil order. That includes the village’s restaurants, such as Pudock’s Hideout, which need to boil water to even wash dishes. The other eateries are Mick and Mary’s and BREWzrz Pub.

The village also loses $2,000 to $3,000 a month in revenue due to the lost water.

The village has applied for a $1.5 million state grant, plus more funding from a revolving loan fund to replace those old pipes.

That amount of money often will dwarf a small town’s municipal budget. That’s why the village has reached out to the state for help, because it has no real other alternative.

Thayer, which lists itself as “a Route 66 destination” on its website, sits on the original 1926-1930 alignment of U.S. 66 that runs from the south side of Springfield to Staunton. Old Route 66 (aka old Illinois Highway 4) in Thayer runs along Harrison Avenue, then Sycamore Street.

Route 66 was realigned about a dozen miles to the east during the mid-1930s.

(Image of the Village of Thayer’s welcome sign from its website)

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