DeKALB – After months of delays and detours, the new First Street bridge reopened to traffic Friday in DeKalb for the first time since the spring.
The bridge originally was set for a planned closure through August, but the project has seen several delays, officials said.
City engineer Zac Gill said the detours no longer were posted as of Friday afternoon. Traffic could be seen coming and going across the bridge as of 4 p.m. Friday, although the sidewalks on both sides of the bridge remain closed, according to signage posted.
Gill said although the city was projecting the bridge would be completed by mid-November, issues with a third-party utility company led to a delay. It’s a reason the city has given for months when questioned about repeated delays.
“They then chose to pull off the job for over three weeks and did no work,” Gill said. “ComEd did no work. With the new line installed, they did not de-energize the existing line that was in the way, and we obviously can’t work through an existing energized power line. So we had to sit there and twiddle our thumbs until they decided to come back three weeks later.”
Gill said the bridge only will be open to vehicular traffic on the road itself.
“The walkways will not be open yet until we get the railings complete and tie in the other sidewalk and pathway,” he said. “Then we will fold in the availability for pedestrians in the next week or two.”
Elsewhere, on the city’s south side, improvements to Peace Road are expected to be completed by the end of next week, Dec. 8.
“They have another week or so of paving, and then they will have the roadway paving completed barring, again, any unforeseen things that come up,” Gill said of the Peace Road work.
Gill acknowledged that the Peace Road project also faced a slight setback of its own.
Originally, the improvements to Peace Road were expected to be completed by the end of November, officials said.
“Getting asphalt down is what’s important,” he said. “The rest of the work can be done. It’s a lot less temperature sensitive and weather sensitive as they finish working with the signals, working with other backfilling behind the curve and other grading.
“It’ll continue to go a bit into the weather and receive some final treatment in the spring. But, again, as long as we hold course here for the next week, we should be able to get all the asphalt on the road and prepare to turn that fully over to public traffic.”