The Brookfield Avenue bridge over Salt Creek, which last received a major overhaul in 1986, will be replaced from the riverbed up next year, resulting in a wider, more pedestrian-friendly structure. | Bob Uphues/Editor

A new bridge over Salt Creek at Brookfield Avenue will not be in place before winter, Brookfield Village manager Timothy Wiberg announced Sept. 13, meaning the road closure between Forest and Arden avenues that’s been in place since May will continue at least into the spring of 2022.

Local officials had targeted the new, roughly $3.5 million bridge to be constructed by November, but the project has been plagued by a series of delays, the latest of which involves re-routing a Brookfield Avenue water main to accommodate the new bridge’s larger superstructure.

Engineers planned to connect a new section of pipe to the 16-inch main east of Salt Creek, re-route it north under the village hall parking lot and then west under Salt Creek the before bending south and reconnecting to the water main on the west side of the bridge. The work was to be done using an auger to bore the hole for the new section of pipe. 

But somewhere below the creek, the auger hit an obstruction.

According to Wiberg, the engineering firm and general contractor didn’t know what the obstruction was. Maybe it was a large boulder, bedrock or some other structure abandoned in place from an earlier project, like the MWRD’s Deep Tunnel system, a section of which runs through that area.

Because there are so many underground utilities, from fiber-optic lines to the section of the sewer connected to the Deep Tunnel, after a couple of weeks of study they believed they had found 10-foot wide corridor a bit farther north where they could drill a new hole.

But, the auger again hit another obstruction, possibly the same as the first, sending engineers back to the drawing board.

Wiberg said that engineers from Ciorba Group Inc., which the village hired as the lead engineering firm for the bridge project, are putting together cost estimates for two possible alternate solutions – open cutting a trench across the bottom of Salt Creek or hanging the new section of water main from the new bridge itself.

Either would be expensive change orders that would have to be approved by the Illinois Department of Transportation, which is the agency in charge of the project, which has received a federal grant covering 80 percent of the total cost.

Open cutting the riverbed would also need a permit from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, and would involve temporarily damming an area of the creek with sheet piling and pumping the water out to create an exposed work space.

Wiberg estimated that open-cutting the river bed would cost an additional $300,000 while hanging the pipe from the bridge could be more expensive than that. Brookfield would be responsible for 20 percent of that extra cost.

He expressed confidence that the water main work could be completed this year, but said the water main issue will mean the actual bridge won’t be constructed until next year. 

Even before that work can continue, Lorig Construction, the general contractor for the project, needs to finish demolishing the concrete piers from the old bridge. Perhaps that work can be done during the winter months, but not until ComEd relocates and de-energizes a power line near the northwest corner of the bridge area, a problem that stopped the demolition work west of Salt Creek in late July.