By RICK HAYES
MT. VERNON — —
Jefferson County Highway Department employees were on location Monday morning making preparations for bridge repairs on Wells Bypass Road, north of Mt. Vernon Dream Homes.
"We're replacing this bridge, primarily due to conditions," explained County Engineer Brandon Simmons. "It was built in the 70's. It has timber pile underneath, timber back walls which hold the beams up, and several of them are rotten. We're going to go in and cut the timber pile, blow the ground and put steel H-pile on top of that and case it in concrete and then reset the beams on top of the steel piling."
The cost of the project is $29,000, which is being taken out of the county's Special Accounts Fund.
Perry County Construction is the contractor for the job. They will be on the job site Tuesday, taking the beams off and begin removing the timber elements and installing steel, according to Simmons.
"We're estimating the job will take about two weeks. Optimistically, if the weather permits, it might be a little less than that," Simmons said.
Simmons confirmed the recent announcement that Mt. Vernon Township High School would be building a new school at the intersection of Wells Bypass and Ambassador roads expedited the repairs to the bridge on Wells Bypass.
"Absolutely. I've looked at this since I started with the county. It's a job that has been in the back of my mind and knew that we needed to do at some point. When I heard the school was going to be built down there on Ambassador, it's a project that moved to the forefront," Simmons said. "The road already has a lot of usage with the interstate project going on, but I want to get it done before the school opens and heavy traffic begins."
The construction area is clearly marked near the construction site with barricades just north of Mt. Vernon Dream Homes to the south and at Veterans Memorial Drive to the north. Detour routes are also marked.
"We have signs on both ends of the project explaining there is a detour. I don't know what else we can do to alert motorists," Simmons said.
While the Wells Bypass bridge project is the highest priority of the highway department immediately, Simmons said E.T. Simonds was the successful bidder Friday for the Log Cabin overlay. Simmons indicated that job would probably start by the end of spring, and a bridge on Violet Road will be let in June with construction commencing in early fall.
"As far as maintenance work, we'll probably do some asphalt work on Papertown Road either late summer or early fall" Simmons reported, and he indicated the county is working with the Village of Belle Rive and officials of the Canadian National Railroad to construct an overpass. Simmons recommended a location on Fifth Street, north of Illinois 142 and Farm Service, earlier. That project is being funded with a 60/40 split between the railroad and the Interstate Commerce Commission. The railroad has approved the new location, but Simmons indicated village officials have not given their blessing to date.