SAVANNA – It looks like drivers who were hoping they’d be able to shave nearly 40 miles off their trip over the Mississippi River next month will have to wait even longer.
The opening date of the Dale Gardner Veterans Memorial Bridge north of Savanna has been pushed back again.
It was announced last month that safety issues on an attached causeway would force the closure of the bridge until late May. Now, the Iowa Transportation Department says the bridge won’t be open until at least July because of problems with sandy soil.
In the meantime, drivers are being asked to cross at Clinton, Iowa, about a 36-mile detour. From Illinois, take state Route 84 south to Fulton, cross the river on the Illinois 136 bridge, and go north on U.S. Route 67 to Sabula.
The bridge will be closed until an $8.4 million replacement is in place for a 350-foot causeway between Sabula and the larger bridge. A 50-foot portion of the causeway, just east of Sabula, is unsafe. One side of the span settled about 5 inches, while another side settled about a foot, creating a visible change in the bridge deck, Iowa DOT planner Sam Shea said.
The settling could be caused by age, high water from recent melting ice, or drilling work done for new piers for the replacement, Shea said.
The Gardner bridge opened in November after an $80.6 million replacement project that took 2 years to complete.