Niles Main Street Bridge project behind schedule
Published 9:35 am Thursday, May 21, 2015
The project to replace the Niles Main Street Bridge is behind schedule, but not so far off as to threaten opening the bridge to traffic this year, according to a project engineer.
Chris Jacobs, MDOT construction engineer, said “utility conflicts” have delayed progress by about two to three weeks. He said workers encountered underground utilities, like sanitary sewers and water mains, in places they did not expect to find them.
“We had to do a little more work than what was expected,” he said. “It was a little more involved than just a regular utility conflict.”
MDOT officials originally projected the bridge would open to traffic by mid November.
“I think we will be a little bit past that more than likely, but we are still shooting to get it open this year,” Jacobs said. “The contractor has brought in multiple crews, so I know they are working hard to get back on schedule, but it might be difficult depending on what kind of weather we have this year.”
Jacobs said large boulders and rubble left behind from when the bridge was built also slowed down the project.
“We had no idea that was there until we started excavating and getting down,” he said. “That created extra work and took more time.”
Work to replace the 90-year-old bridge, which spans the St. Joseph River, began in October. The MDOT-led project is expected to cost the state approximately $10.6 million.
Jacobs said crews are currently driving H-piles, or structural beams, for one of the bridge’s two piers.
“Hopefully everyone is happy with what is going on,” he said. “We get a lot of visitors that come down. We actually did a tour with some of the senior citizens from (a Niles assisted living center). They were interested in what was going on.”