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July 08, 2014 | 02:27 PM
FONTANA — The Fontana bridge is reopened, but it’s just a temporary fix.

Tom Collins, an engineer at Collins Engineers, said a permanent solution will mean taking down the existing bridge and starting over on a new one.

Collins Engineers was contracted to complete the inspection of the bridge and, along with Scherrer Construction, repair the bridge for summer traffic.

“The village called us when they saw some settlement issues around the bridge,” Collins said in a phone interview July 3. “We cut apart the timber sheeting (underneath the bridge) and saw the piles had deteriorated.”

Piles are the vertical supports from the bridge into the compacted layers of ground.

Collins said after the inspection, the bridge was deemed unsafe for vehicle traffic.

“There are two types of inspections,” Collins said. “There is the general safety inspection and the in-depth inspection. If defects are found (on a bridge) during a general inspection, an in-depth inspection is done.”

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During the repair work last week, the construction crews left the old piles in place and installed new piles.

“Basically we’re building a substructure,” Collins said.

After most of the work was done on Thursday, Collins said the bridge would be opened to two-lane traffic, a change from original plans that would have reduced traffic to one-lane.

“We were concerned,” Collins said. “We didn’t know that much about the bridge at the time (we made the first plan). Since then we’ve done more assessments. We’re still not allowing trucks on the bridge.”

Collins expected the work to be done Thursday evening, though he said earlier that day that he couldn’t promise anything.

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The bridge opened around 7 p.m. July 3, with an official ribbon cutting ceremony.

Village Administrator Dennis Martin said the bridge has a 6,000-pound weight limit and a 10 mph speed limit.

“The bridge is also open for emergency vehicle traffic, and the sidewalk on the top of the bridge is open for pedestrians,” he said in an email July 3.

“Trucks and trailers are not permitted on the bridge. The posted detour (takes) Highway 67 south to County Highway B (then) east to Indian Hills Road and north to South Lake Shore Drive.”

Martin said the sidewalks under the bridge will remain closed until a new bridge is constructed, but the harbor channel is open until construction begins in the fall.

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Martin said the construction crews have been plagued with wet weather that’s limited construction.

“We’re pretty confident they’ll get done,” Martin said July 3. “I imagine we’ll work with Collins (Engineers) for the permanent project this fall.”

Todd Wilkins, vice president of Scherrer Construction, said the crews worked 16-hour days to make sure the project was finished in time to open for the holiday weekend. Along with the 16-hour days, Wilkins said “the small world effect” worked on the bridge.

“Tom Collins and (I) grew up in the same hometown, both managing the project for Scherrer Construction and Collins Engineers grew up in La Grange, Ill.,” Wilkins said in an email July 4. “Both (of us) had no knowledge of this until the completion of the project.”

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