D-O-T Outlines Plans For I-81 Bridge Replacement in Preble
Portions on Interstate 81 in Preble will be shut down for as little as a week or as long as a month next year while the State replaces the twin bridges that carry traffic over Preble Road.
The State Department of Transportation held a open house last night in Preble to detail the planned replacement of the two interstate bridges.
The work is slated to begin in May of 2013, the state plans to do as much preliminary work as possible before closing the interstate. That work includes replacing the bridge abutments, drainage improvements, and shoulder work. The current plan is to replace the bridges with a precast concrete structure.
D-O-T spokesman Gene Cilento says the nearly 50 year old bridges weren't due to be replaced until 2015, but the northbound bridge was struck last April, the damage forced the decision to replace the bridges sooner.
The D-O-T’s tentative plan calls the Northbound Bridge to be removed first sometime after Labor Day, traffic will be diverted to Route 281 through Homer and back onto the interstate. Once the Northbound bridge is replaced the southbound bridge would be closed and again traffic would be rerouted through Homer. It’s expected that Preble Road will be closed for the entire project.
Homer Fire Chief Mahlon Irish Jr.asked the D-O-T officials to consider maintaining traffic on site in order to ease the impact on the Homer Preble areas.
Engineers say installing a temporary bridge to keep traffic on the interstate would cost $1.5 to $2 million dollars, the project already has a price tag of $6 million.
The detours will send anywhere from 19 thousand to 23 thousand additional vehicles per day down the 10 mile detour through Homer.
The D-O-t says it will offer the project contractors financial incentives to expedite the project and will limit the total amount of time they can have the interstate closed. They may consider retiming traffic signals on Route 281 to improve traffic flows during the detour.
The entire project is targeted for 2013 but may extend into 2014.