Brookfield Avenue will be closed to traffic between Arden and Forest avenues for six months beginning in April to accommodate the long-awaited replacement of the bridge over Salt Creek. The project has been in the works since 2014.

On Jan. 11, the Brookfield Village Board voted unanimously to clear a final hurdle by entering into an agreement with the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railroad for a temporary easement allowing work crews access to a narrow strip of railroad land south of Brookfield Avenue during construction.

Village Engineer Derek Treichel said bids for work would be opened March 5 by the Illinois Department of Transportation. The roughly $2.9 million project is being funded through a combination of federal and local dollars. A federal grant will cover $2.32 million of the cost. The village’s share of the cost is estimated at $580,000. 

Work should begin in mid-April, said Treichel, with completion expected sometime in November.

When complete, the bridge should be a major upgrade from the existing span, whose only pedestrian area is a 5-foot wide sidewalk on the north side, unprotected from traffic. The sidewalk is not wide enough for more than two people to pass one another comfortably, and even then it’s a tight squeeze.

The new bridge will have a 10-foot-wide pedestrian walkway on its north side, with a semicircular bump-out – 5 feet deep and 30 feet long — extending over the river, creating a small plaza.

In addition, a parapet wall will separate the pedestrian area from westbound traffic, and the bridge will also be equipped with decorative pole lighting and bollards.

Since the bridge replacement will be done at one time and not in phases, construction will disrupt traffic on Brookfield Avenue during the length of the project. Vehicles will be rerouted around the work area via Arden, Washington and Prairie avenues.

Part of the work will also involve realigning a water main that runs north of Brookfield Avenue, making storm water outfall improvements and relocating bundles of fiber-optic cable that run across the river at road level along the south side of the bridge. Those cables will be relocated underground, Treichel said.

Brookfield engaged the Ciorba Group in 2014 to start planning and designing the new bridge from the riverbed up. At that time, the cost for replacing the bridge was estimated at about $1.5 million and construction was initially planned for 2017.

While not an imminent safety hazard, a Ciorba’s engineer told trustees that the span was in “poor” condition and that IDOT had already limited loads on it. The bridge’s concrete abutments are more than a century old, dating to the construction of the original bridge in 1916.

The bridge deck itself was completely replaced in 1986 after a section collapsed and fell into the river. It was at that time the first steel pedestrian bridge was erected south of Brookfield Avenue in order to give pedestrians a way across Salt Creek while the road bridge was out of commission.

By 2017, the estimated cost of replacing the bridge jumped by about $1 million after engineers concluded that the deteriorating concrete superstructure supporting the bridge needed to be replaced.

According to Treichel, new abutments will be realigned so that they are parallel to the flow of the river. Realigning the piers will reduce scouring, and the flow of the river will be improved by the complete removal of the existing central support pier, which is placed at an angle, impedes flow and is a choke point for debris.