Preparations for bridge construction proceed in Savanna

SAVANNA — Preparations for the construction of a new Savanna/Sabula bridge across the Mississippi River are moving forward, with more equipment being moved in and a base of operations set up.

Illinois Department of Transportation Resident Engineer Chris Aude said that the project, started in January, is in the early stages, with workers attempting to gain access to the river in preparation for the actual bridge construction.

Aude’s work involves overseeing the project and making sure all construction is being done to plan. She anticipates her office, currently located in the old Pizza Hut building on Main Street, will be open until the spring of 2018.

“Trees are currently being removed, and then work on the bridge foundation will begin within a week or two, as well as the retaining wall,” Aude said.

She said that this year, the project will focus on the “substructure” of the bridge, with the superstructure to come next year. The superstructure should be completed by October of 2017. The following winter will see the removal of the old, existing bridge structure. 

“For a brief period this will mean that two bridges will actually be in place at once,” said Aude.

Asked how the project will affect through traffic, Aude said that there will be no re-routing, “though, at some point there will be signals for one lane traffic, with flaggers as well. There will be no total closures.” 

The signals are currently scheduled for next year, but this year will see workman as flaggers directing traffic.

Work is scheduled for Monday to Friday only, but if they get behind, crews might work Saturdays. There are presently 25 people working on the site project. There are four cranes on the Illinois side, three on the Iowa side, with other equipment like loaders being used as well; Aude says equipment is always being brought in.

The experience of driving over the bridge will be different, Aude said. 

“The see-through metal grates will be gone and the bridge will be all concrete. Moreover, the bridge will be wider, with 12-foot lanes and eight foot shoulders, encompassing a much wider area for traffic to navigate,” Aude said. 

The bridge will be a “tied arch” structure. Drivers will notice a different type of lighting; the new bridge will feature a new type of lighting with actuators that will turn on the lights only when there is traffic, designed to help with the annual shadfly congregations that beset the bridge.

The prime bridge contractor is Kraemer North America, with a number of subcontractors assisting in other work. In January, the City of Savanna came to an agreement with the company for its requested use of portions of Marquette Park to facilitate the construction of the bridge, whereby Kraemer would pay the city $5,000 for this access. This contract started on Jan 4 and will terminate on May 31, 2018.

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