After 14 months of closure, demolition and repair work on the Washington Avenue bridge could begin as early as next week.
Officials with the city, engineering firm Olsson Associates and Krupp Construction met for a pre-construction meeting Wednesday to go over final details to repair the 102-year-old bridge that was closed in December 2011 because of structural concerns.
Krupp Project Manager Sean Killian said he expected to bring his crews into town Monday and possibly start demolition by Wednesday. Work will start on the bridge’s north side on East St. Louis Street, then move to the truss and finally the right side on East Main Street, though working on the truss may be slowed down some.
“Because we’re working within Union Pacific Railroad’s right-of-way, they’re going to want to review and approve plans before you start on the truss,” said Olsson Project Engineer Ken Jennison. “I would allow plenty of time, four to six weeks, for those to be approved.”
Killian said he has worked with railroads in similar situations and “didn’t think it would be a problem.”
“There are different things you have to deal with with railroads,” Killian told the Democrat after the meeting. “When a train is coming, you have to be completely out of their right-of-way for 20 minutes before and there are a lot of trains that come through. Also, when we get to the point when we’re actually working above the rails, we have a pay a railroad employee to basically watch as we work.
“I have done bridge work like this before. We know what we’re in for.”
Funding for the repairs will come from a $7.2
million bond the city was approved for late last year. Originally anticipating a $2 million price tag for the work, the bids for the bridge came in significantly under budget at $1.2 million.
“Even if we have to do some additional piering work, which we may, we’re still looking at around $1.26 million, which is a lot less than we originally thought it would be,” said Public Works Director Bill Beck. “That’s obviously very good news for us and the public.”
Beck said the city’s role would be to oversee the project, but he would generally leave the specifics to Olsson and Krupp.
“They’re very knowledgeable about what needs to be done,” he said. “This project has a lot of parts, the design work took a while, for example. I know people have been wondering if anything has been going on, if we’ve been working on the bridge. We have, it’s all been behind the scenes so far. But now work out in the open will begin.”
Killian estimated a completion date for the bridge of late September to early October.