Article updated: 7/21/2011 8:58 AM

Villa Park bridge project to start in fall

Reconstruction of the Ardmore Avenue bridge, just south of North Avenue in Villa Park, is expected to begin this fall. The bridge has been closed for almost two years.

Reconstruction of the Ardmore Avenue bridge, just south of North Avenue in Villa Park, is expected to begin this fall. The bridge has been closed for almost two years.


Scott Sanders | Staff Photographer

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Demolition of the Ardmore Avenue Bridge in Villa Park is on track for this fall -- two years after the structure closed permanently to all vehicles.

But motorists will still have to put up with detours for another year. The project isn't expected to be finished until fall 2012.


Ardmore Bridge timeline

Here are key events in the timeline for the Ardmore Avenue bridge project:
Aug. 8, 2007: Village holds a project kickoff meeting with the Illinois Department of Transportation.
Aug. 29, 2007: Following a structural inspection, IDOT mandates a 10-ton weight limit for the bridge. Trucks, including emergency vehicles, are rerouted.
Jan. 29, 2009: The village submits the signed, final project development report to IDOT.
May 1, 2009: The village completes interim deck repairs to the Ardmore Bridge, a temporary measure to extend the life of thestructure.
Aug. 25, 2009: After inspections show the bridge can no longer safely accommodate the weight of most SUVs, the overpass is permanently closed to all vehicles.
June 21, 2010: Phase I preliminary engineering is complete.
April 21, 2011: The village is in the process of completing Phase II design engineering and working with the Canadian National Railroad and the Illinois Commerce Commission to complete other tasks necessary before construction begins.
Aug 5, 2011: Project bids are expected to be opened.
Source: Village of Villa Park

"We fully understand (the bridge) is a convenience to the citizens and a convenience to the businesses," Village Manager Richard Keehner Jr. said. "The sooner it's open, the better."

The deteriorating overpass, which spans the Canadian National Railroad tracks from Sunset to just south of North Avenue, has been closed since Aug. 25, 2009.

The rehabilitation project includes repair or replacement of deteriorated columns, support panels and the bridge deck.

The federal government is picking up 80 percent of the nearly $3 million tab, with the rest of the money coming from Villa Park.

Village officials knew they'd have to repair the aging bridge and started meeting with the Illinois Department of Transportation in 2007.

The process is lengthy because the plans and specifications are complicated and had to be reviewed multiple times and resubmitted, Keehner said. The state's budget woes that led to retirements and furlough days also slowed the process, he said.

Bids are slated to be opened Aug. 5. The goal now is to complete the demolition before winter and to start rebuilding the bridge in spring 2012.

The village has been able to add a "little bonus" to the project, however, said Vydas Juskelis, director of public works.

The final project includes $200,000 to resurface Hill Street, which has taken a beating these past two years as part of the detour route.

"Before we submitted the final plans, we asked the state if something could be done about Hill Street," Juskelis said.

The federal government will pay 80 percent of the resurfacing cost and the village has been talking with York Township about covering some of the rest. Since the bridge closed two years ago, north-south traffic has been rerouted to Villa Avenue or Addison Road. The two alternate routes have grade railroad crossings, slowing traffic even more when there is a train.

"I think people have adjusted their driving habits to follow the detours, but they're not excited about it," Keehner said. "They will be excited once the bridge is open and safe and they get back to the old traffic patterns."

The original Ardmore Avenue bridge dates back to the 1940s. It was rebuilt in the 1970s using part of the original structure.

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