Continued construction renders local bridge unavailable for use

by Lizzie Norgard

Though we all know by now that we can’t walk past Reid down Park Street, the details of the Park Street bridge project have remained a mystery.

Formerly an arched structure leading across Mill Creek, the 80-year-old Park Street bridge was demolished over the summer, and construction of a new bridge has since been underway. Fred Miklancic, project representative and inspector for the architectural engineering company Anderson Perry and Associates, Inc, explained that the old bridge had a load bearing limit of nine tons, requiring fire engines and many trucks to navigate around Park Street. The new bridge will consist of stronger concrete reinforced by steel beams, which will allow heavier vehicles to cross. Miklancic said that the Division and Blue Street bridges will also be replaced “in the next year or two.”

Beginning in early June and working four 10-hour shifts per week, construction workers from Vono, the construction company contracted to replace the bridge, tore down the old bridge over a period of a month and a half. Since then they have also laid the sub-structure, which consists of steel-reinforced concrete slabs set under the bridge. To prevent refuse from falling into Mill Creek, the workers also laid a provisional steel bridge over the water. The next step in the project is to lay the superstructure across Mill Creek.

The layout of the Park Street block between Boyer and Alder will not change significantly. The street will retain the same width that it had before construction began, but the new bridge will be flat as opposed to slightly arched as it once was. It will be constructed from girders, the steel-reinforced concrete beams that will lie diagonally across the creek.

Miklancic said that the project has undergone some delay from having to wait for the girders to arrive at the site. “We’re ready to put them in right now, but it’s going to be almost another three, possibly four weeks before we get the girders,” he said. He said that the contractor wants the workers to begin constructing the sidewalk alongside the bridge to make up for the lost time, but that this is risky because “until you get the bridge set in there, you need to know exactly where you’re going, and if you make a little mistake about where the sidewalk and curbs are, then you have to change the sidewalks.”

The completion date for the project is Nov. 3, assuming no significant problems arise from now until then.