IDOT planning switchover from old bridge to new in early October
If you live in Utica and are eager to drive over the new Route 178 bridge – or walk or bicycle across using the shared-use path – your wait is quickly coming to a close.
A construction engineer with the Illinois Department of Transportation said Wednesday they’re readying for the switchover – that is, for traffic to be diverted from the old bridge to the new – starting tentatively in the first full week of October.
An extended dry spell that has caused problems for farmers in La Salle County has been a boon to construction crews and given the Utica project a boost after a wet spring that somewhat impeded the project. Construction engineer Kyle Videgar said the clear skies and summer sun have him and his crews right on track.
“We’ve been very productive this year with the work we’ve accomplished,” Videgar said. “A lot of that can be attributed to our contractors, but certainly, too, it’s because of the wonderfully dry weather.”
The 10-day forecast looks relatively dry and should it hold, the new bridge will be opened some time the week of Oct. 4. Videgar said formal notification of the switchover will be issued in the days ahead.
The project won’t technically be finished until weeks after the switchover – Videgar thinks crews will be working into December – and demolition of the old bridge is loosely set for some time during the winter.
Construction started in spring 2018 after years of planning, both by IDOT and Utica, which asked for some modifications at village expense. Utica negotiated a sewer line beneath the structure as well as a cycling/walking path.
Mayor David Stewart welcomed the news that the switchover was days away.
“The village is very pleased with the shared-use path,” he said. “It is a large pathway for both bicyclists and walking traffic. It is a great addition to our community for everyone to enjoy.”
As for demolishing the old bridge, Stewart has openly advocated to be the one to detonate it. So far, though, IDOT hasn’t acknowledged his request.