Crews are installing the final freeway bridge of the season

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KSL team coverageThe final bridge in the Utah Department of Transportation's I-80 bridge replacement project is finally rolling into place today. The move started at 9 a.m. along Wasatch Boulevard near 3900 South. Tonight at midnight, UDOT will close I-215 in both directions until early Monday morning.

Crews are installing the final freeway bridge of the season

With this being the last bridge move, it's generating a lot of excitement. This morning, crews began to place the 3300 South bridge over I-215. A big crowd of spectators gathered at Olympus Hills Shopping Center to watch this 12th and last bridge move, including Bill and Marilyn Pratt. Marilyn says, "We watched, about 10 years ago, this one over 3900 South when they dropped that in. It wasn't nearly the extravaganza this has been."

There were free Innovate-80 T-shirts, visors and little, orange stress squeezers that say UDOT on the side for when you're stuck in construction. There was also free food provided by the contractor.

But it's not all fun and games. Todd Wadsworth, the project manager, said, "We got a hard night left in front of us. The demolition of the bridge, which is a technical task, in the time frame we have."

And with such a substantial move, there's bound to be a hitch. Today it was a transporter part that broke. UDOT engineer Deryl Mayhew said, "It's a fan-belt pulley. A local company has it on stock. They just have to go pick up the part and replace it."

Crews rolled the bridge along Wasatch from the first staging area at 3900 South to the second staging area near 3500 South. The bridge will sit there until I-215 is closed down at midnight. That's when crews will tear down the existing 3300 South bridge and start to roll the new bridge along the freeway to its permanent position.

"These guys are pretty good. This thing is remote controlled. They just walk along, manipulate it 360 degrees and up and down a couple feet. So it's a pretty amazing piece of equipment," Wadsworth said.

Crews are installing the final freeway bridge of the season

UDOT calculates that 190,000 hours of delay time has been avoided due to this method of replacing the bridges. It sees this project finishing ahead of schedule.

And on the new bridge comes new artwork on the concrete done by school children.

"Since its close to an elementary school, we did the same thing and thought ‘Why not get the kids who have to cross this bridge every day involved," Wadsworth said.

The public can watch UDOT move the bridge into place tomorrow from Eastwood Elementary School, where they'll be serving free breakfast. Today, onlookers tried to get a peek from anywhere they could see.

Sandy Collard said, "I can't imagine that this is even possible. I'm watching the wheels on this machine turn one way then turn another. It's great."

Jaren Angerbauer said, "I think it's amazing. I missed the one on 4500 South, so I wanted to catch this one."

UDOT is scheduled to reopen I-215 Monday morning at 5 a.m. But officials say traffic may be allowed through as soon as tomorrow afternoon, if all goes as planned.

For more information on this bridge replacement project, click on the related link.

E-mail: ngonzales


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