Napier Avenue Bridge to reopen by Memorial Day weekend | News
ST. JOSEPH – The Berrien County Highways Department is working to reopen one lane of the Napier Avenue Bridge in each direction to all traffic in time for Memorial Day weekend.
The bridge has been closed to most vehicles since April 26, after a steel rocker was discovered to have broken off.
“We deeply appreciate the tremendous efforts of our construction crews, whose quick and thorough work allowed us to safely reopen the Napier Avenue Bridge,” Acting Highways Department Director Kevin Stack said in a statement. A press release. “This bridge is a key artery in our community, providing the best route to Lakeland Hospital, so it was important for us to reopen it as quickly as possible.”
While the goal is to reopen the bridge in time for Memorial Day weekend traffic, Stack said it won’t sacrifice safety for “speed or convenience.”
Reconstruction work began on the bridge on March 28, but halted on April 26 after crews rust-blasting the rocker arms and bridge girders discovered more deterioration than originally anticipated. The cleaning process resulted in gaps between the bridge rockers – which hold the bridge girders and the deck to allow the bridge to have some movement.
The road department closed the bridge to all traffic on April 26, until repairs could be made. These included the installation of temporary supports. On May 2, a certified weld inspector examined each weld to ensure that the work had been done safely.
The bridge, which provides the most direct route to Spectrum Health Lakeland Medical Center, is once again open to ambulance and police traffic. All other vehicles, including fire trucks, should continue to use the official detour, taking M-139 North to Business Loop I-94 and crossing the St. Joseph River using the St. Hand.
The design engineering team updated their calculations for the bridge with the temporary supports, concluding that they would make the bridge capable of supporting more fixed and moving weight than the bridge was originally designed for. originated in 1967.
Stack said safety is the No. 1 priority as the highways department determines if — and when — the bridge can be reopened to the public.
“We’re monitoring it right now. What we’re doing is we’re simulating live traffic,” Stack told Berrien County commissioners Thursday. “Ambulances and police are going through it. Construction traffic going through it is going through it. We’re putting weight on that bridge, making it move like it’s supposed to, and making sure everything is within tolerance as far as possible. how much it moves.”
Stack warned that the goal of reopening by Memorial Day weekend depends on a number of factors, including weather and contractor crews.
“While we recognize the inconvenience of closing this bridge, we want to assure the public that we will take all necessary steps to complete and certify construction before allowing non-emergency traffic to return to the bridge,” Stack said. “The safety of all motorists is always our primary concern.”
While construction continues, Napier Avenue will have one lane maintained in each direction between Langley Avenue and Miami Road. The work should be fully completed in August.
Once the bridge reopens to single-lane traffic, the highway department said motorists can expect possible travel delays. Stack also said drivers should remember to reduce their speed when crossing work zones and watch out for construction workers and equipment.
Contact: [email protected], 932-0358, Twitter: @TonyWittkowski
HP Writer Louise Wrege contributed to this story.