Traffic congestion south of the river in Chatham will start to improve Sept. 2, as two lanes of the Parry Bridge on Keil Drive will open as scheduled.
Adam Sullo, director of engineering and transportation, said municipal staff recently received a revised schedule from the contractor, and the information confirmed staff predictions.
“Two lanes will open Sept. 2 by the end of the day,” he said. “We’re expecting the full four lanes will probably be open just before Thanksgiving.”
The target completion date for the entire project – rehabilitating the entire bridge – should be done by the end of October.
Sullo said the timeline is what was originally planned, although municipal staff had hoped for a pleasant surprise.
“We had clauses in the contract to say Sept. 2. That’s the timeline we set, but we had hoped to be open a few weeks in advance of that,” he said. “But we’ve had a few hiccups in regards to ordering some materials.”
Still, everything is on schedule.
“Currently, all structural reinforcing is finished on the main structure,” Sullo said. “They are in the process of replacing the sidewalks. We’ll have one sidewalk lane open Sept. 2.”
Sullo warned construction at the bridge would get worse before it gets better.
“We’re looking at the week of Aug. 22, shutting down the intersection on the south side of the bridge,” he said, referring to where Keil Drive meets Riverview Drive.
Sullo anticipates the intersection would be closed for about two or three days.
It has been an inconvenient summer on the roads in central Chatham. Sullo said staff have certainly heard from the public over the bridgework.
“There has been a lot of frustration. The traffic volumes people have seen on places like Lacroix Street are above normal. And a left from King Street onto Lacroix has frustrated some,” he said.
People have asked for an advance green on King Street heading east at Lacroix. But Sullo said that would shorten the green light in both directions as a result.
“Any action creates a reaction. If we were to put a left advance there, you’d actually back up Lacroix, which is your arterial street. It would only compound problems,” he said.
Sullo said traffic light times have been changed “as best they can” in the area to accommodate for the added traffic.
But there’s only so much they can do.
“Roads are no different from a water pipe. You can only squeeze so much water into a pipe,” Sullo said. “Twenty-two thousand cars cross that bridge every day. All that has shifted to the other bridges and roads, with much of that to Lacroix.”