Excavators dig away at the Salt Creek river bed overnight on March 14-15, creating a trench to install a new section of water main north of Brookfield Avenue. | Photo by Nate Morriss

Progress toward construction of a new bridge over Salt Creek at Brookfield Avenue took a significant step forward this week with crews working overnight on March 14-15 to drain a portion of the river to dig a trench and reroute the Brookfield Avenue water main to accommodate the larger superstructure for the new bridge.

A significant snowfall in February followed by high water as that snow melted had delayed the operation for about a month, but early on March 14 workers installed two aquadams across Salt Creek north of Brookfield Avenue and then pumped out the water in between to expose the river bed.

An excavator on the morning of March 15 backfills a trench cut overnight into the Salt Creek river bed to reroute a 16-inch water main as part of the Brookfield Avenue bridge replacement project. | Bob Uphues/Editor

The river bed was sufficiently dewatered late on March 14 to allow excavators room to dig a trench for the new section of 16-inch water main, which connects to the Brookfield Avenue main on either side of the creek. By the morning of March 15, workers were pressure testing the new main and backfilling the trench.

Jesse Singer, project engineer from Ciorba Group which has performed the engineering for the bridge replacement, said the next step was for another trench to be dug about 10 feet south of the new water main for ComEd power lines, which are being buried to eliminate overhead lines at the west end of the bridge.

That work, Singer said, needs to be done “ASAP for several reasons, the number one being there’s rain forecasted on [March 17]. … They’re going to be here first thing in the morning [on March 16], and I think they’re going to get into the hole probably [that] afternoon. They kind of have to be done by Thursday morning so we can pull the coffer dams if it does rain.”

Singer said that the obstruction that workers encountered late last summer when they attempted to bore a hole under the creek to install the water main might have been bedrock. As excavators dug the trench across Salt Creek overnight they did encounter stone deposits that got heavier as they dug, he said.

Once ComEd finishes burying its power lines and removes the ones over Brookfield Avenue, demolition work can recommence and the new bridge installed. It’s not likely that the new span will be in place by July 4, but officials still hope to wrap up the project this summer.

“We’re going to push [ComEd] really hard to get the lines down,” Singer said. “It’ll be nice to build a bridge.”