About two years after one of the Illinois 15 bridges over Illinois 13 and the Illinois Central Railroad was demolished, workers have begun to form the replacement bridge.
When work started on the project in 2012, the Illinois Department of Transportation had planned to have work on the $14.4 million project completed by mid-2014. However design delays have pushed the scheduled completion date back to the spring of 2016, according to IDOT documents.
IDOT had to redesign the bridge to make sure there was enough clearance over the Illinois Central Railroad, said Supervising Field Engineer John Scheibal.
Scheibal said there were calculation issues on the structure deflection, how much beams would bend down when accounting for the load of concrete and other bridge materials.
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The railroad looks for a minimum 16-foot clearance, and the bridge would have been inches off without the adjustments or redesign, Scheibal said.
Scheibal said the project is expected to be more expensive now, but the final cost won’t be determined until the project is completed. Cost overruns associated with design error may be forwarded to IDOT’s consulting engineers on the project.
Scheibel added contractors began building the bridge in sections during the winter at their offices. In early March, they began bringing pieces out to the location to begin onsite bridge work.
Additional work was needed to ensure soil would not settle near the railroad tracks, IDOT engineers have said in the past.
With design issues taken care of, workers are starting to form the first bridge deck of Illinois 15, which is reduced to one lane in each direction in the area west of Eckert’s.
Illinois 13 in the area is still closed.
Scheibal said IDOT hopes to have the eastbound bridge deck poured by the end of this month. Pavement for the approaches to the bridge would be poured afterward.
“My goal is to just stay focused on getting the work done and the bridge open,” Scheibal said.
After the bridge for eastbound lanes is completed, traffic will be shifted to the new bridge so work on the westbound bridge can begin. That stage of work is expected to begin in the late spring.
Scheibal said IDOT has an aggressive goal of finishing both bridges by the end of this construction season.
“If we’re lucky we’ll have the second bridge built by the end of the year,” Scheibal said.
“I’m going to push to be aggressive,” Scheibal said. “I would love to get them poured this year, but that would be aggressive.”
Lane restrictions have been in place since 2013, when IDOT began demolishing the eastbound side bridge.
Work began in July 2012 for the staged removal and replacement of the mainline bridges of Illinois 15 over the railroad and Illinois 13 near Belleville. As of March of this year, only 50 percent of the project was completed, IDOT documents say.
Work is weather dependent, Scheibal added.