Jul 30, 2014

River Road Bridge Tied to Dam's Fate

Army Corps of Engineers consultant to decide whether dam must be removed before repairs can start on bridge.

River Road Bridge Tied to Dam's Fate River Road Bridge Tied to Dam's Fate

Yorkville motorists eager to shorten their drives to Plano and other western communities won't have the River Road bridge over Blackberry Creek as an option for several more weeks, at least.

 May 31 after state officials discovered evidence of a growing gap in its western abutment. Instead of risking the safety of motorists, the state ordered Yorkville to close the bridge until it either can be repaired or replaced.

No one knows when the bridge will reopen. The biggest hurdle? An old dam that shares the same deteriorating western abutment.

Illinois State Rep. Kay Hatcher met Tuesday with representatives from the city of Yorkville, Kendall County, the Illinois Department of Transportation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Officials from the corps are studying the dam to determine if they must remove it before any repair work can take place on the bridge.

Joe Wywrot, city engineer for Yorkville, said the corps is expected to rule on this within 30 days. If the dam does have to go, the city will have to wait for the Army Corps of Engineers to receive the funding it needs for the work. Unfortunately, that funding is not yet in place.

Because of this, there is no way to estimate how long the bridge will remain closed, Wywrot said.

"A project like this is not a typical project," Wywrot said. "It is unique. We have a lot of good people involved at the state and county levels. The right people are in place to work through this issue."

Wywrot doesn't know yet what it will cost to repair or replace the bridge. The final figure depends on whether the dam sharing the abutment has to be removed or can be left in place.

Regardless of the dam's fate, one thing is certain: Yorkville motorists will be inconvenienced. When the city of Yorkville last counted in 2008, 4,500 vehicles drove over the River Road bridge on a daily basis.

Chris Funkhouser, an alderman for Yorkville's Ward 3, said that he is pleased, so far, with the city's response.

"The response time to get the bridge closed after the state declared it unsafe was great," Funkhouser said. "I've been very pleased with the cooperation we've had with the highway department and the county."

Like others, Funkhouser is eager to hear definitive answers as to how long the bridge will remain closed and how expensive it will be to either repair  or rebuild the structure. Until these answers come, however, motorists will have to be patient, he said.

"Some residents would really like to see the dam stay," Funkhouser said. "But most of them understand, too, that if it's not possible, or if would simply cost too much to keep it, then it will have to go. If we had to take it out, they'd understand."

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