Traffic slows for construction on the Kenai River bridge in Soldotna on Wednesday afternoon. Work is going slower than expected, according to the project manager.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
The goal of bridge workers in Soldotna continues to be completing the new Kenai River bridge this year, but the optimism that once characterized their speech is on the wane.
“We’ve slipped (off schedule). We’re still hoping to get traffic up on the bridge this year; that’s still our goal,” said Scott Harter, project manager for Wilder Construction, on Tuesday.
“A lot of things need to happen,” he said.
Workers have experienced some delays in the project, most notably problems with the coffer dam, which was built in the middle of the river to facilitate work on the bridge’s center support.
Concrete has been poured for the pier’s footing below the river bottom, and for a 34-foot tall column wall on the footing. Now the hammerhead portion of the center pier needs to be poured.
Steel girders for the bridge actually sit on the hammerhead, according to Harter.
Last week, overnight bridge closures had been scheduled for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday graduation night for a number of central Kenai Peninsula high schools but work was completed in two shifts instead of three, so the bridge was open Thursday.
The closures were needed so trucks could pour loads of gravel into the coffer dam to refill the hole dug to build the center pier.
About three feet of rock still needs to be placed on top the gravel.
The bridge will again be closed next week to allow pouring concrete for the hammerhead.
Harter said the closures are tentatively scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, but said the exact days and times will be posted on flashing construction zone signs on either side of the bridge.
After the last layer of rock is placed in the hole, steel pilings for the coffer dam will be removed, followed by the removal of steel framework for the dam. That work should take about two weeks.
Although Harter said the goal remains to have traffic on the new bridge before the end of the year, workers probably will not have the temporary bridge removed by then.
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