NEWARK — The Village Board accepted a bid to make needed repairs to the East Avenue bridge that will close the bridge up to eight weeks this winter, most likely starting in January.
The project was awarded last Tuesday, Dec. 17 to lowest bidder Economy Paving for all work on the underside of the bridge at a cost of $266,660. Other bids came in at $321,000 and $799,251. The village intends to bond the cost for repairs over the next 20 years.
Using one crew, Economy Paving has guaranteed the work will be completed in four to eight weeks, depending on weather, during which the bridge will be closed. Bob Hutteman from Lu Engineers will oversee the work, and the bidder is responsible for making arrangements with the Canal Corporation to use a barge to complete the project. Hutteman told Mayor Peter Blandino he has worked with Economy Paving in the past and found them to be very cooperative and easy to work with.
Annual inspections by the Department of Transportation have red-flagged the bridge, forcing the village to reduce its weight-bearing limit to 7 tons. The bridge was first posted in 2011 when the DOT first began issuing red flags to the village. Although only three floor beams have been flagged, the board has decided to replace all 11 beams in the floor of the 100-year-old bridge. The beams run from truss to truss and hold the steel deck in place. The board was notified this past fall that repairs would be necessary in the near future or the bridge would have to be closed for safety reasons.
Back in 2003, the village spent about $1 million to rehab the bridge, which was built in 1913. At that time, the village took ownership of the bridge from the state to prevent the bridge’s permanent closure. Despite muddied paperwork making it unclear whether the village truly owns the bridge today, the DOT has made it clear if it retains ownership, the bridge most definitely will be closed indefinitely due to lack of funding to repair it.
Once repairs are done, the probability is high that bridge’s weight-bearing limit will go up to support most any traffic, with some limitations.
The board has also decided to replace the steel deck with a timber deck and to pave the surface with asphalt at an estimated additional cost of $100,000. This is expected to ensure the bridge lasts longer, since it will prevent salt from falling off vehicles and through deck’s grating to settle in the corners of the floor beams in the winter — the primary culprit in the bridge’s deterioration. Village highway crews are expected to be able to do the work on this portion of the project, most likely in the spring during which the bridge would be closed.
Blandino said he anticipates work will begin sometime in January, weather permitting.