I-80 bridge construction hits a snag

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The Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) has run into a snag in its massive I-80 bridge reconstruction project. The first of seven bridges was supposed to be in place by tomorrow, but it looks like it'll be a few more days before the structure at Highland Drive is in position.

John Montoya, UDOT Project Manager, said, "We think we probably won't be moving the bridge any further until Wednesday morning, so we have a couple days delay here from where we thought we'd be."

The first seven bridges, part of UDOT's so-called "Innovate 80" project, were supposed to go in at a rate of one per week. The bridges are all going in on the westbound lanes, and this phase was scheduled to be completed in August. That's still the game plan, but UDOT workers have a bit of a challenge right now getting the first bridge properly in place.

It is certainly a disappointment and a setback for UDOT, but there are no indications this problem will impact traffic because of the delay.

The massive bridge replacement project began about 9:00 Saturday night, when the first structure was slowly moved from the "bridge farm" at I-80 and 13th east. Sitting on a remote-controlled transporter, the 3 million pound bridge rolled down the westbound lanes of I-80 to the edge of the Highland Drive overpass. This morning, the plan was to slide the structure down into position. To do that meant lifting the bridge off the transporter. But, when they started to do that, workers noticed that one of the huge steel beams supporting the bridge had a slight bend in it, so all work came to a halt.

"So rather than continue to proceed, we elected to take a look at that problem and develop a remedy as a precaution to make sure we're safe," Montoya said. He added, "And so we've slowed down a little bit and are having some additional components fabricated at this point to address the bending."

So instead of having the bridge in place by Monday night, it may take until Wednesday morning before the job is done, and it's likely UDOT will re-examine what happened before the other bridges are moved in the coming weeks.

I-80 through that area will remain open as it has been while the construction has been going on. Traffic will be moving in each direction, using the eastbound lanes.

The entire bridge project calls for rebuilding 17 bridges at a cost of more than $137 million. The project should be all done by December of 2009.

E-mail: spenrod@ksl.com

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Sam Penrod


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