By Dave Moller
With thousands of dollars in revenue already lost, Louisiana merchants were ecstatic when the Champ Clark Bridge opened earlier than expected last week.
MoDOT and Halverson Construction Co. Inc. of Springfield, Ill. had earlier projected the bridge repair would close the span at Louisiana for eight days.
But a plan and long hours worked between storms allowed the reopening to occur at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 2.
“We started at 6 p.m. Friday and worked around the clock until Sunday at 11:30 a.m. and got most of the structural steel done,” said contracting firm owner Steve Halverson.
“We came back Sunday and got the rest.” Crews painted the structure and outlined the entire bottom beam of the guard rail with a reflective white paint on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Halverson decided initially to replace rivets under the first week’s one-lane of traffic to expedite the job.
His firm also collected a $48,000 bonus from MoDOT for getting the job done 64 hours early, according to MoDOT spokeswoman Marisa Brown-Ellison. The total price of the project to Halverson was $295,000.
“It was most time sensitive to remove and replace all the rivets,” Halverson said. “You then jack it up and put temporary bolts (and rods) through it,” to transfer the load.
The work began April 23 with a partial closure to do preliminary work on the railing and superstructure that were damaged in the Dec. 13, 2011 fatal accident on the bridge near the Illinois shore.
A log skidder on a trailer slammed into the bridge and rolled onto the pavement in front of a vehicle being driven by Stark Bro’s executive Kyle Brown, who was killed.
After no traffic over the bridge since 6 p.m. on Friday, April 27, the merchants were glad to see the ebb and flow again.
“It’s good news for us,” said River’s Edge Motel owner Kantilal Bhakta. “People cancelled out and some other people didn’t know and went to Hannibal.
“The bridge is very important, people don’t realize how much.”
Across the street at Ayerco convenience store, Manager Kathy Harrison new exactly how important.
“It’s very good news,” she said upon hearing of the early reopening. “It gave us some spring cleaning time.
Read the rest of the story in this week’s issue of The Vandalia Leader or purchase an electronic edition.