You’d think constructing what in truth is a pretty short bridge over a minor stream wouldn’t be such a trial, but you’d be wrong, it turns out. Officials expected when construction of a new Brookfield Avenue bridge over Salt Creek began that in six months cars would be driving over it.
That six months turned into 19 months due to a variety of problems – some entirely out of the control of local officials, but also some, we have to admit, self-inflicted.
Of course, there was nothing to be done about a two-month delay caused by a strike this summer by union quarry workers, whose walk-off led to an interruption in the supply of concrete, not just to Brookfield but to worksites across northern Illinois.
There wasn’t much that could have been done regarding various staring matches between the village’s contractor and ComEd, which took its sweet time sorting out power-related complications in the vicinity of the worksite.
That water main rerouting, though. You’d have thought someone would have seen that one coming. Of course, it’s all water under the bridge now, pardon the pun, but for six long months the need to reroute the Brookfield Avenue water main was a very visible albatross over the project.
At one point during the long work stoppage, some frustrated Robin Trower fan had scrawled the words “Bridge of Sighs” on the side of a very large concrete drainage pipe deposited in the middle of the street in front of the Grossdale Station.
That particular work stoppage also turned out to be costly. We’re not sure how much can be attributed to that issue, although IDOT approved expending an additional $470,000 to dig a trench through the Salt Creek riverbed to accommodate the new section of water main.
In the end, a construction contract that had been approved by the village board in April 2021 for $3.47 million came in at $4.85 million. That’s about 40% more than the amount of the contract, which also increased the village of Brookfield’s share of the cost from $694,000 to a shade over $970,000.
If there’s an inquest to be conducted that can somehow shave some of that cost, we’d hope that’s in the works.
There’s no doubt, however, that the new bridge is a real upgrade over the spartan, utilitarian structure it replaced. It’s safer and more accommodating for pedestrians and the new superstructure, which does not have a central pier, is better in terms of river flow and reducing the amount of debris that in the past would get caught at that chokepoint.
Despite the problems, construction is over and Brookfield got what it sought in a new bridge. That’s worth celebrating – and hoping we don’t have to repeat any time soon.