Eight precast concrete beams were lowered into place on Sept. 19, giving officials hope that the Brookfield Avenue bridge over Salt Creek can be completed before the end of the construction season in November. (Bob Uphues/Editor)

The engineer in charge of the Brookfield Avenue bridge project said barring any unforeseen developments construction should be complete by the end of the 2022 construction season.

“It’ll be a mad dash to the finish line,” said Jesse Singer, resident engineer at Ciorba Group, the firm hired by the village of Brookfield to lead the roughly $3 million project, which is largely being funded through a federal grant. “The bridge itself will be easy to finish, but the roadway is different because of the time of year we’re dealing with.”

In recent weeks, conditions have been ideal and last week the project hit a milestone with the installation of eight pre-cast concrete beams, upon which the bridge deck will sit. For the first time since the old bridge deck was demolished in May 2021, there’s a span across Salt Creek.

On Sept. 19, a 500-ton crane lowered each of the eight beams into place on top of the concrete abutments on either side of the river. The prior week, the abutments were finished and the steel coffer dam that had been in place since the start of the project was removed from the riverbed.

Also last week, workers laid a subdeck so they could walk on the new span and constructed a diaphragm where concrete will be poured for the overlook area on the north side of the new bridge. Work was also expected to begin immediately on building the forms for the concrete bridge decking that will go atop the pre-cast beams.

Getting the bridge deck completed is a one-and-a-half to two-week process, Singer said, and it will take about seven days for the concrete deck to cure completely so it can handle vehicles.

After the decking is complete, the final piece of the puzzle will be to build the approaches that connect the roadway to the bridge. That’s where weather could make things dicey since asphalt plants typically close for the winter around the end of November. Sections of asphalt roadway on either side of the bridge will need to be repaired after being chewed by heavy equipment for two years.

“I’d say we’ll finish at the very end of the construction season,” Singer said. “I hope we’ll have no additional surprises.”

The project, which was supposed to have wrapped up at the end of 2021, has been plagued by delays caused by a variety of factors. In summer 2021, work halted for several weeks as the general contractor, Lorig Construction, waited for ComEd to OK de-energizing an overhead power line so demolition of the old bridge abutment could take place west Salt Creek.

Construction was then interrupted for months during the last quarter of 2021 and into 2022 after it was determined that a water main that ran under Brookfield Avenue had to be rerouted to the north to accommodate the larger superstructure of the new bridge.

Work finally restated in February, but the water main realignment – which also included burying the overhead power line that had caused the first delay – didn’t wrap up until late in March.

Then on June 7, just as workers prepared to pour concrete for the new abutments, quarry workers went on strike, causing roadway and bridge projects across northern Illinois to come to a standstill.

Quarry workers ended the strike on July 26, but work didn’t resume on the Brookfield bridge project until Aug. 8.