CHILLICOTHE — After a very long process that started almost 20 years ago, a new bridge and road system is now nearing completion in Chillicothe.
Planning for the new bridge construction was started in 1996, but because of funding complications work was postponed until January 2011.
The project includes two new bridges, one spanning the Des Moines River and the other over the Burlington Northern railroad tracks that follow alongside the river.
The road that connects the two, rightly named Chillicothe Road, is the final piece that will complete the project.
Both bridges were completed late last year, but before construction workers could lay down asphalt on the new road, the dirt and gravel that was put in had to be compacted. For just about a year, cars and heavy equipment going in and out of the Alliant Energy power plant have been packing down the gravel and dirt on the road, readying it for pavement.
Norris Asphalt Paving Company, of Ottumwa, began the final stage of the project last Tuesday, which will make the road completely paved. According to Wapello County Supervisor Steve Siegel, the asphalting was a relatively small project, and it was the right time to get the entire bridge construction project completed.
“It was a good opportunity to go ahead and asphalt the rest of the road that was rock,” Siegel said.
Asphalting the road is the final step of the bridge construction project, and it should be completed sometime within the next week, according to Brian Moore of the Wapello County Engineer’s Office.
“If the weather cooperates it should be done later this week or early next week,” he said.
The need for a new bridge came after officials noticed structural flaws in the old bridge, making it insufficient for use.
The entire bridge construction process cost approximately $11.5 million, according to Siegel, with funding coming from an I-JOBS grant totaling $5.3 million and the rest from the county’s regular road work tax dollars.
Once the asphalting is completed, Chillicothe Road travelers will have a nice, newly paved road to match the two brand-new bridges.
To see reporter Josh Vardaman’s Twitter feed, go to @CourierJosh