Broad Av. bridge replacement will be expensive -, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Broad Av. bridge replacement will be expensive

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Albany's Broad Avenue Bridge has been closed for more than two years, and it could be another two years before it opens again.

Bids for this project are set to be let in November. The would allow crews to begin tearing down the ancient bridge just after the first of the year.

While it may appear no work is being done, a lot is happening behind the scenes. A Department of Transportation consulting team is working on the engineering phase of the project, and a Citizen Advisory Committee is giving input on the design.

Motorists who are forced to wait in traffic on the Oglethorpe Bridge are anxious to see some work underway.

"It can be quite frustrating especially when your trying to get to work and traffic's backed up or you're trying to get off of work and having to wait," said Motorist Ausha Jackson.

It's been a nuisances for Dougherty EMS who've found themselves stuck in traffic to cross the Oglethorpe Bridge.

Dougherty EMS Assistant Director Greg Rowe said, "The way that bridge is designed, if all the lanes are already full and traffic's stopped, it takes us longer to get through that, they do their best to get out of the way, but there's no where to go."

While its difficult to see any progress, engineers busy behind the scenes are making some headway.

"There's the finishing up of the drawings, there have in fact been soil borings to test where the pilings need to go to support the bridge," said Asst. City Mgr. Wes Smith.

Also being decided who will foot the bill for demolition and reconstruction. Right now, it appears the state Department of Transportation is willing to pay the lion's share.

"We generally anticipate the Department of Transportation to pick up the bulk of the $11 million, the city is prepared to pick up a portion if it's required to, but certainly we would like the state to do most of it," Smith said.

Before any work can begin, Water, Gas, and Light utility lines on the bridge will be relocated.

That's now been included in the initial bid. Crews had initially hoped construction could begin this fall, but design on a more complicated bridge to address environmental concerns has taken a little longer than expected, leaving motorist to watch the vines crawl farther across the bridge and wonder how much longer until they get their chance.

The Broad Avenue Bridge was closed February 12th, 2009 when DOT divers found major deterioration of the bridge footings making the bridge dangerous even for pedestrian traffic.

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