Bridge girder work rolling on

Wilder expects new span construction to be complete by October deadline

Posted: Tuesday, August 08, 2006

With bridge workers appearing to be up to the task of placing huge steel girders across the Kenai River, the state’s project engineer is still predicting the Soldotna bridge will be done by October.

Wilder Construction has been closing the temporary bridge on advertised nights since late July so cranes could move the girder sections onto splicing towers where they are bolted together and then set into place.

The girder sections are brought by truck from Seward to a staging area at the truck weigh station in Sterling where they wait until bridge traffic is stopped overnight.

The next scheduled closure is today from 9:30 p.m. to 5:45 a.m.

“It’s going pretty well,” said project engineer Matt Coullahan on Monday.

“They finished last night with about an hour to spare,” he said about Sunday’s closure.

On Thursday, however, high winds causing the girder sections to rotate while in the air resulted in the bridge being closed through the entire scheduled period, Coullahan said.

A fifth girder will be brought in Thursday night and the sixth and final one comes Sunday night.

After the girder work is complete, the two splicing towers will be removed from either side of the center pier, and corrugated deck panels will be set atop the girders.

Sheer studs will then be welded on to attach the steel to the concrete, and the first of three deck pours is expected to be done in mid-September.

A weatherproofing rubberized membrane will be put on the concrete before two two-inch layers of asphalt complete the bridge surface, according to Coullahan.

“I imagine it will be done in early October,” he said, adding October is about as late as paving can be done in this area.

Other work being done along the Sterling Highway near the bridge involves creating pocket parks along the approach to the bridge.

In addition to curbs and walkways being installed, small trees and shrubs are being planted in the parks.

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