Bridge crews preparing river dam to work on replacing pier

Posted: Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Observers of the Kenai River bridge construction in Soldotna will see a big dry hole in the middle of the river in about a month or two.

Wilder Construction, the company building a new $28.3 million bridge over the Kenai River in Soldotna, entered the next phase of construction as it starts building the support for the middle of the new bridge. This support is called a pier.

"The community has been very good to us and we are trying to reciprocate," said Chuck Swenor, project engineer for the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities. "There has been a lot of support (and) we are really appreciative of that."

With the temporary bridge complete and demolition of the old bridge under way, construction workers are spending time around the clock building an extension "trestle" for the crane to sit on, said Scott Harter, project manager for Wilder Construction.

After the tressle is complete, a square dam will be built, which will make a dry hole in the middle of the river to remove the old pier and pour concrete for a new one, Harter said. This is called a coffer dam.

This is the first phase of the construction of the new bridge, he said.

Harter said Wilder was required to wait until the beginning of July to start working on the coffer dam. The next big date is Sept. 1, when crews can start working along the shore of the Kenai River to remove the concrete piers, he said.

"It's going pretty good," Harter said of the construction.

Swenor said Wilder is working round the clock and doing a pretty good job of staying on schedule.

In addition to starting work on the new pier, Harter said work began on a new sedimentation basin that will treat storm drained water before it is drained into the river. Previously this water was not treated, he said.

More information about the Kenai River bridge project can be found on the Web at

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