Highway construction signs are again flashing bridge closure information in Soldotna and bridge project officials are asking motorists to go around.
The temporary Sterling Highway bridge across the Kenai River will be closed to one lane during the day Thursday to allow workers to continuously pour the concrete center pier wall for the new bridge.
According to Scott Harter, Wilder Construction project manager, the concrete pouring will begin at 9 a.m. and continue until about 7 p.m.
Motorists are being asked to use the alternate route on Kalifornsky Beach Road to Bridge Access Road to the Kenai Spur Highway to avoid delays.
“Vacation traffic is already picking up so there will be a big backup,” Harter said.
The column wall for the center pier of the new bridge will be 34 feet tall, 72 feet long and four feet thick, according to Harter.
It extends from the top of the footing, about eight or nine feet below the river bottom, up to what is called the hammerhead of the center pier, which will be poured in about three weeks.
The column wall requires about 360 cubic yards of concrete, and Harter said only four vertical feet can be poured at a time, allowing the concrete to set up as they go.
He said because workers need to see down into the forms while the concrete is being poured and sets up, the pouring must be done during daylight hours.
Once the column wall is complete, the coffer dam will be removed. The four-sided, steel piling dam temporarily provided a dry hole in which workers could construct the footing and install forms and reinforcement steel for the wall.
Following the dam’s removal, work will begin on the pier hammerhead, which will once again require traffic restrictions on the temporary bridge.
Because of some problems Wilder experienced with the coffer dam, Harter said the project is now behind schedule.
“If everything goes well, I still expect to have traffic on the (new) bridge later this fall,” he said.
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