Will Fifth St. Bridge be done on time?

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Workers prepare the bridge abutment on the north side of the Thames River as part of the work on the Fifth Street Bridge Monday. While demolition of the old span met some delays, municipal officials remain optimistic the rebuilding of the bridge will still be done by Dec. 22.

Despite delays, municipal officials remain confident work on the Fifth Street Bridge will be done on time.

Adam Sullo, director of engineering for the municipality, anticipates the bridge will reopen by Dec. 22.

Work began in early July and ramped up in August, as crews began working on Saturdays. Sullo said they ramped up further a few weeks ago.

“Just this month, they started working on Sundays to keep the timetable,” he said. “The next few weeks are critical to hit key milestones to prepare the foundation. Once that cures, we can move up.”

Sullo said the demolition of the old bridge top took longer than anticipated.

“Demolishing a bridge, you can’t just take a sledgehammer to it. You have to be careful as to what portions to remove,” he said. “Could we have seen it removed faster? Certainly.”

He said the contractor is doing other work, such as preparing the abutments, while the demolition and removal work is still underway.

Municipal officials are keeping a close eye on progress, and Sullo said the contractor is well aware there are penalties for not hitting the Dec. 22 deadline.

“We have biweekly meetings on site. We’re doing everything we can to stay on top of it,” Sullo said. “Everything else is moving along as it should. The contractor is showing the commitment to meet that schedule.”

Initially, work on the bridge was to begin in late May, but got pushed back to after the Canada 150 celebrations downtown.

With the delay, the main concern with the bridgework is waterproofing the concrete before the temperature dips too low.

“On top of concrete, we’ll put waterproofing. It needs to be installed above a certain temperature,” Sullo told The Voice in a previous interview. “And you shouldn’t put asphalt down when the snow is flying.”

He said the worst-case scenario would see the use of a “sacrificial layer” of asphalt – paving put down on top of the concrete just for the winter and then scraped off in the spring so the concrete could then be properly waterproofed before a permanent layer of asphalt goes down.

Sullo said by Nov. 1, municipal staff will have a very good feel for if the $7.45 million project will be completed on time.

While the bridge is anticipated to be open in December, area improvements will continue into next year, as the work will involve improvements to the intersection of King and Fifth streets, as well as upgrading major Bell communication lines.

The Bell work is slated to begin this week, Sullo said.

 

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