LOUISIANA – Work has been underway for about a week on the last way-station on the route to the opening of the new Champ Clark Bridge: the construction of the approach over the Sny levee in Illinois.
Massman Construction Project Manager Josh Hanrahan said that the projects completion date still hangs on the possibility of inclement weather. Rain over the last weekend has already proved inconvenient.
“We’re just hoping for more dry weather. the last couple of rain events are not causing delays by any means but they certainly don’t help,” Hanrahan said in an interview Monday.
Even if the construction site itself stays dry, rain elsewhere — for instance, at the quarry supplying the project — could slow progress.
Hanrahan declined to speculate on the final date of the bridge opening, but said it could come within a few weeks, and that they still hoped to complete the project by the ribbon cutting, set for 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 3.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony will go forward regardless of whether the bridge is actually ready to open.
One of the central features of the event — a talk by Ben Clark, the great-grandson of the bridge’s namesake, Congressman Champ Clark — was set to be previewed Tuesday with an appearance of the man himself at the Bowling Green Rotary Club.
For months this stage of the process has loomed on the horizon, threatening the otherwise fast-approaching opening of the bridge. High waters, which made it impossible to cut through the Sny levee for the new approach, was one factor the team working on the project couldn’t control.
Over the course of the weekend, the river has dropped further, approaching around 14 feet in Louisiana, a foot beneath the threshold for major flooding.
So far, workers have excavated the sand in the levee and are replacing it with a clay base that is able to support a roadway. Once the clay is laid the roadway will be built on top.
Work will continue on the project after the new bridge opens to traffic. Until the marina north of the approach is connected by road to the new approach, the old bridge will remain in use for people traveling to and from the marina. Work completing that transition will continue after the opening of the new bridge, to be followed by the demolition of the old bridge.