Bridge facing delaysPublished 11:11am Thursday, October 11, 2012
The Tower Road bridge project might not be open to traffic by Oct. 19 after all.
Then again, it might. It all depends on the weather and the progress made at Mark Sand & Gravel.
A Sept. 21 fire at Mark Sand & Gravel damaged some of the business’ equipment, including the pavement-making equipment that has been supplying the Tower Road project, said City Engineer Dan Edwards. Though the business has been able to produce some pavement since then by substituting parts from a portable pavement plant, it is now waiting for new parts to arrive, he said.
“Right now, they’re telling us that ‘We’re sort of stuck until our parts arrive,’” Edwards said.
Edwards said the roads around the project will still be opened this fall because they are all technically in drivable condition; all of them have gravel or partial pavement down, and the bridge itself is completed save for some traffic markings. However, the city would like to have all of the layers of pavement put down on all parts of the road before the area is opened.
That may not happen, however. The final layer, or “lift,” of pavement can’t be put down in cold weather, meaning that Mark Sand & Gravel would need to begin producing pavement again and the weather would need to warm up for the final layer to be put down.
“Even more critical is that the pavement markings and everything have to go on in a certain temperature,” said Edwards.
However, the city still wants to open the project before the end of the year. Edwards said that even if the weather doesn’t warm up, the city can complete the rest of the pavement layers and then open up the project until next spring, when the area would temporarily close so crews could put down the final layer.
“The idea is that before winter gets here, we’re at the very least going to have all the layers in until that final lift,” he said.
Most of the rest of the work is done, with only a small amount of concrete pouring left and some landscaping being left until next year (as originally scheduled). Due to schedule concerns and worries about cold weather, the city has moved the bridge’s dedication ceremony back to 4:30 p.m. Nov. 5 in the city council chambers. The dedication will still honor the Fergus Falls area’s POW-MIA guests and soldiers.
“It’s just day to day,” said Edwards of the project schedule. “Everything is hinging on the paving operation right now.”