Day after day motorists drive down the freeway paying little or no attention to those weight and height limits recorded on bridge overpasses. Overweight and oversized vehicles however must monitor every bridge whether traveling over or under. Last year, one oversized vehicle underestimated its height and rammed into an overpass at mile marker 76 along I-55’s southern/central Illinois corridor. The overhead is located between the Farmersville exit 72 and the Divernon exit 76. The damage to the overhead was significant enough that the bridge had to be temporarily closed.
Illinois Department of Transportation District 6 Construction Engineer Bill Frey explained, “A year ago, an oversized vehicle struck the bridge and bent the beam.”
The bridge closing was not a major traffic stopper, mostly local traffic and farm vehicles used the overhead. While not a major crossing, for local drivers, the closing of the overhead caused them to shift traffic patterns until the recent replacement and reopening of the bridge. The overhead required beam repair, including the replacement of two girders.
The project budget was $256,000 and was conducted by Sangamo Construction, of Springfield, IL. Frey described the process Sangamo had to go through to get the overhead back in action. “They had to saw the deck and remove the deck from the beams. [The deck is constructed of .5-in. concrete with two layers of reinforcement bars.] Then the damaged beams were taken down and replaced.”
When asked what happens to the old beams, Fry said, “They would most likely be salvaged by the contractor.”
Once the beams were replaced and the new deck completed, the overhead was reopened in late May 2002. In this case, Illinois funds would not be used to pay the cost of the overhead replacement. Frey noted that when this type of accident occurs, the payment for the repair is the responsibility of the motorist.
Also along this same corridor of I-55, Frey said that a construction project is under way to repave and rehabilitate the bituminous surface. “We are patching the new driving surface and also doing bridge repair.”
This project is currently under way and will continue throughout the summer.
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