If you were planning on a weekend getaway to Seward, cancel your trip -- or stay for the whole weekend.
Beginning at 10 p.m. Friday, the Falls Creek and Ptarmigan Creek bridges will be closed to all vehicle traffic while the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities installs temporary bridges.
"There will not be transportation for the people of Seward," said Borough Mayor Dave Carey in an interview April 2.
"You have to disrupt traffic in order to place the temporary bridges that's why the closure was necessary," said DOT spokesman Rick Feller.
The closure will remain in effect through 5 a.m. Sunday.
Feller said arrangements have been made will all emergency services agencies in the event of a medical emergency.
The bridges in question, along with Trail River Bridge, have experience accelerated deterioration over the years, Feller said.
"Installation of temporary bridges will provide for more normal traffic patterns," he said.
Trail River Bridge, because of its length, has permitting and design requirements different from the other two bridges. Feller said DOT hopes to begin building a temporary bridge for Trail River by the end of summer.
"It's not lost money at all," Feller said about the temporary structures. He said they can be dismantled and reused at other locations.
According to Seward Assemblyman Ron Long, permanent repairs of the bridges will cost $20 million, however, the state only has $11 million to cover the cost of the temporary structures.
"(DOT) told us they do not have the money for the permanent bridges," Carey said. "People are very concerned."
According to DOT, that's not the case at all.
"Money really hasn't been an issue in replacement thus far," Feller said. He said the hold up has been due to the lengthy design and permitting processes necessary. Once permitting is complete, bids for contract work for the project will be accepted.
Feller said DOT does plan on constructing permanent bridges in Seward at all three locations.
"Nothing is prohibiting us from proceeding with that," he said.
Once the temporary structures are in place, DOT will be conducting monthly inspections to monitor the bridge's conditions.
Inspections will continue throughout August.
Long, who's been in contact will DOT several times over the last couple of weeks on this issue, said the agency is looking to restrict commercial vehicles weighing more than 30,000 pounds two days out of every month. Those days will most likely be Monday and Tuesday, though no finalized schedule has been released.
DOT should release a schedule with official day, time and weight restrictions by Friday.
Long said stressed the importance that those days will only have restrictions on traffic; they are not traffic closures.
Mike Nesper can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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