Des Plaines River bridge in Libertyville closed to ensure public safety
The Rockland Road bridge over the Des Plaines River in Libertyville was closed Thursday morning because of significant deterioration of its decorative steel truss system.
Officials said the problem was reported after a routine inspection and will require immediate attention. The truss system is not integral to the structure, but the bridge was closed due to safety concerns for vehicles and pedestrians, officials said.
Libertyville received the inspection report Wednesday night and conferred with the Illinois Department of Transporation, which recommended it be closed, according to Village Manager Chris Clark.
"We believe at this time that road part of it is OK," Clark said. The truss portion "very well could be completely removed," he added. The truss is 150 feet long, nearly 36 fee wide and 25 feet high.
The steel truss system was discarded as part of a downstate road expansion, and in 1962, it was disassembled, refurbished and brought to Libertyville.
It was again was renovated in 1989.
"It's really rusted where the truss attaches to the side of the bridge," Libertyville Township Highway Commissioner Marty Neal said. The village and township equally own and maintain the distinctive bridge.
"It's just decorative. The problem is on the south side of the bridge, the walkway is cantilevered from the trusses," Neal said.
According a village news release, the immediate closure was recommended by IDOT until emergency repairs are completed.
What exactly will be involved and how long it will take is being determined, although the truss will have to be removed and rebuilt, according to the village.
Bids will be sought "to do it right, do it safe, do it smart," Clark said. "Now the objective is to get this back open. It likely will be a couple of weeks, not days," he added.
Barricades at the bridge approaches were set about 11 a.m. Thursday and a full traffic control system was being structured for the evening rush. Motorists are directed to use Route 176 (Park Avenue) just to the north as an alternate to cross the river. Check www.libertyville.com for updates.
The closure comes in advance of a planned replacement of the Rockland Road bridge.
The village and township are pursuing federal funding to replace the bridge superstructure, raise it 14 inches and provide more suitable pedestrian accommodations. The 20 percent local share of the estimated $2.9 million project would be split.
Construction has been anticipated in 2021 or 2022 but it is unknown whether or how the truss issue would affect that schedule. Clark said federal officials have been contacted.
"Certainly, if there's a way to move it (bridge replacement) up, we will. It comes down to dollars," Clark said.
Last fall, Libertyville Public Works Director Paul Kendzior said it appeared the existing overhead steel truss, which is aesthetic and does not contribute structural support for the bridge, may be too deteriorated to re-use.
The bridge replacement is separate from a village project scheduled for 2019 to rebuild Rockland Road east from Route 21 (Milwaukee Avenue) to Riverside Drive, replace a water main and extend a storm sewer to reduce flooding.
The township also is pursuing a plan to rebuild Rockland Road from the bridge east to St. Mary's Road with a 4-foot paved shoulder.