STERLING – Work to rebuild the main artery connecting Sterling and Rock Falls is being completed a month ahead of schedule.
Freeport-based Civil Constructors began work on the $27 million First Avenue Bridge project in mid-January. Monday, crews painted the final stripes on the road, and the bridge was opened from two lanes to four.
The deadline to complete the project is Nov. 16. Each day saved earns the contractor an extra $33,333, up to 30 days, for a total of $1 million.
The bridge must be done by midnight Wednesday for Civil to collect the full bonus, a deadline it will meet “barring any unforeseen issues,” Illinois Department of Transportation project engineer Matt Hardt said.
Crews are to finish the final cleanup work under the bridge this morning. A ribbon-cutting will be at 11 a.m. Nov. 7, at a spot to be determined, Hardt said.
“Start to finish, everything went better than expected,” he said. “We didn’t have any major delays, there was a few fairly good-sized design changes, but all in all, everything went well. The weather was good, good contractor.”
The bridge, which carries 27,000 vehicles a day, needed its substructure replaced. It was built in the early 1920s, and its last major rehab was done in 1980-81, Hardt said.
The project was awarded in December and work began a month later, he said.
“That’s a real short time for the contractor to get everything in line from different contractors to materials. Civil did an outstanding job of making sure everything was on the job when it was needed.”
Projects of this scope usually take 2 years, but “the reason it was done in 1 year is because it was the main artery between Sterling and Rock Falls,” he said.
Construction crews have been working 72 hours a week; for 6 of the 9 months, they worked around the clock, he said.
“What a lot of people may not realize .. we give [Civil] a million-dollar bonus, but it isn’t really a million dollars in their pocket because they had to spend money to make the money – all the overtime and everything else involved,” Hardt said.
IDOT thanks Sterling and Rock Falls officials for their help with the project, and residents for their patience, he said.
“All in all, from IDOT’s standpoint, it was a good project. We completed what we came in to do, that was to put up a new bridge and do it with an expedited schedule and just get the job done.”