The contractor on the Hurricane Bridge rehabilitation project may start moving in equipment as early as next week in preparation for the beginning of construction.
Officials of OCCI Incorporated of Fulton, Missouri were among those present at a pre-construction conference held Thursday morning at the TDOT building on Armory Street in Smithville where details of the project were discussed. Representatives from TDOT's regional and field offices also took part in the discussions along with consulting engineers.
Milton Greer, resident engineer for Modjeski and Masters, a consultant for TDOT on the Hurricane Bridge project told WJLE that OCCI is expected to begin preparation work within a few days. " The contractor is planning on doing some mobilization starting this next week and possibly get some traffic control items set up. Hopefully around the first of February, they'll start doing some of their preparation work, putting up some shielding, etc to protect the river so that they can start doing some repair work underneath the bridge, such sandblasting and repainting the sub-structure."
Among the issues discussed during the pre-construction conference Thursday morning was the traffic control plan for the bridge during construction. Greer said posted weight limits on the bridge will continue to be enforced, however school buses and fire trucks will be allowed to cross. Otherwise, loaded trucks over the posted weight limits will have to detour via State Highway 96 (Dale Ridge Road). "Local traffic including light trucks and multi-axle trucks 18 tons or less can continue to use the bridge as well as 10 ton trucks with two axles. Any vehicle in excess of that will need to take a detour which will be around highway 96. There will be traffic signals when we have alternating traffic on the bridge (one lane open) to control the direction of traffic. A fair amount of the time there will be two way traffic maintained on the bridge but there will be short periods where we will have to have alternating traffic on the bridge. As far as traffic control on the bridge, that probably will not go into effect until the actual construction starts. At some point in time when they start getting ready to take the deck off, we'll have to start doing alternating traffic in order to set up the required portable barrier rails for the protection of the public and the workers on the bridge."
The county ceased flagging operations January 1st but officials said flaggers may be needed again at some point during construction.
Greer also described the scope of the work to be done on the bridge "We've got a certain amount of strengthening to do to the steel truss members and some additional stringers which actually support the concrete deck. The existing rails and deck will eventually be removed from the bridge and replaced with a lite weight concrete deck." The bridge will also be repainted .
In October, TDOT awarded the bid to OCCI Incorporated at $26.9 million.
The contractor has until October 31st, 2013 to complete the project. OCCI officials said Thursday that they plan to finish the project in less tme.
County Mayor Mike Foster, who was present during the pre-construction conference, said he was pleased to hear that construction work will be starting soon. "I'm glad to know that they're not going to interrupt traffic, except for loaded trucks. But the fact that traffic can still go across the bridge including school buses, fire trucks, and empty trucks is a big, big relief. I was also encouraged to hear the contractor say that he thought he could cut a year off the contract time. That's big for us. This is important to all of our industries and all the people who work there, as well as tourism. That's our life blood."