Aesthetic railing, lights part of Libertyville bridge design

Construction is a long way off, but lighting and design elements have been selected for a new Rockland Road bridge over the Des Plaines River.

The bridge, owned jointly by the village of Libertyville and Libertyville Township Road District, needs to be replaced and is in the first phase of design and review.

Since 1962, the span had been known for the distinctive, 150-foot-long steel truss system over the two-lane road.

The truss was built in 1921 as part of a longer span in downstate Vandalia and decommissioned when the road there was moved. It was acquired and installed in Libertyville as a nonstructural aesthetic element.

The bridge was closed for safety reasons in early 2018 after a routine inspection showed significant deterioration of the truss. It was removed but couldn't be salvaged or reused.

Federal funding will cover 80% of a new bridge but will not pay for a replacement truss. The task then was to create a design that reflected the historical intent and was acceptable under federal guidelines.

Working with Civiltech Engineering Inc., the village and road district presented several alternatives during public open houses Oct. 20 and 21.

"We took all the comments into consideration," said Marty Neal, township road commissioner. "We've really looked at this and looked at it hard."

The consensus was a hybrid design for the aesthetic elements calling for "aesthetically enhanced" concrete railings; "Army" green-colored bollards that produce an unobtrusive glow; and, downward lighting for the sidewalk and traffic lanes embedded into the railing at the bollard locations.

As with the existing structure, there only will be space available for pedestrians and bicyclists on the south side of the bridge.

On that side, the concrete railing will be between the traffic lane and walkway, with a steel railing between the path and the river.

Having a traffic/pedestrian separation was a frequent comment at the public meetings, said Paul Kendzior, Libertyville public works director.

"It just makes sense," he said.

Approval of the design Tuesday by the Libertyville village board allows the process to remain on track. The estimated construction date is 2023 or 2024, depending on the availability of funding and project readiness.

Kendzior said the information will be submitted to the Illinois Department of Transporation, which administers federal funds and reviews plans, for approval hopefully by summer.

Design features for a new bridge over the Des Plaines River on Rockland Road in Libertyville will include decorative concrete railings, lowlight bollards and downward lighting on the road and pedestrian walkway. Courtesy of Civiltech Engineering Inc.
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