Motorists traveling through Soldotna next week may want to alter their route to avoid the Kenai River bridge at least during the night.
On Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, the bridge will be closed to all traffic from 7 p.m. until 5 a.m. to allow construction workers to drive steel piling for a small platform being built in the main channel of the river.
When asked if pile driving would continue all through the night, Shane Oyster, project engineer for Wilder Construction, said, “I hope not.”
The platform is being erected just south of the coffer dam and will be used to support girders for the new bridge span, Oyster said.
“When we bring in our tub girders, one end will be on the platform and the other end on the south abutment,” he said.
Tub girders are trapezoidal shaped steel girders, just over 7 1/2 feet tall, varying in length from 124 to 154 feet, he explained.
Each span over the river will be made up of three tub girders. The entire bridge will consist of six girder lines, he said.
The girders, which are being manufactured in Montana, will be barged up to Seward and then trucked to Soldotna. At that time, Oyster said six road closures will be required.
He said he expects the girders to be put in place this summer.
Also next week, bridge workers plan to pour a grout seal in the coffer dam built last year about halfway across the river.
The coffer dam was put in to provide a dry hole in which workers could prepare the way for the center support for the new bridge.
After pouring the grout seal, crews will de-water the dam, do some clean up and pour the footer for the center support. Cement pouring will take place during the day.
Wilder Construction is “still looking at the bridge being open in late August or early September,” Oyster said.
The former Soldotna bridge was closed last June when a temporary bridge was opened to vehicular and pedestrian traffic. Work to dismantle the old bridge began shortly afterward.
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