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Bridge replacement to close portion of Main Street in Evansville

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GINA R. HEINE
July 18, 2011
— There’s a bridge there?

That’s a common response to news that a bridge on East Main Street in downtown Evansville will be replaced this summer.


Drivers cross the bridge over Allen Creek just after the railroad tracks and four-way stop with Highway 14 when entering downtown from the east. The short bridge with steel railings blends in with the rest of the street, but the finished project will look more “bridge-like,” City Administrator Dan Wietecha said.


Construction is scheduled to start next week and finish in late September to early October. The bridge will be closed and traffic will be rerouted using South Union, Water and Madison streets.


Downtown business owners have “that feeling of here we go again,” said Councilman Jim Brooks, chairman of the economic development committee. Road and utility work has forced road closures downtown in four of the last six summers.


The economic development committee and engineers met with downtown business owners to prepare for the project.


About 500 maps showing how to get around construction were handed out at the Fourth of July parade, and another 500 were given to local businesses, Brooks said. Officials have created other documents and signs to help customers during the construction, he said.


“Existing businesses are just as important as new business,” he said.


Among those most affected is the Allen Creek Gallery, 137 E. Main St. Owner Matthias James said he’s not worried.


“It’s something that has to be done. We’re just going with the flow,” he said. “People are going to be able to get down to us. We’re putting up plenty of signage.”


He might adjust his weekday hours depending on traffic, but he will stay open at least Fridays to Sundays.


James will have to take down glass items and sculptures in the gallery for about a week when the bridge footings are drilled just outside his building.


The bridge was built in 1930 and widened in 1960.


The construction was planned for last summer but was delayed when the city needed more time to buy property from adjacent landowners, Wietecha said.


R.T. Fox Contractors of Edgerton also will upgrade undersized water mains as part of the project. Concrete Structures of Janesville will do the bridge work.


The city’s part of the construction cost is about $150,000. The state pays 80 percent, Wietecha said. The city also paid design engineering and land acquisition expenses, as well as utility-related costs.


The new bridge will have sidewalls with columns and openings to add to the historic downtown, Wietecha said. Streetlights that match the existing historic-looking poles will be installed on the bridge’s corners.


“Once it’s done, it’s going to help us out tremendously,” James said. “It’ll look really nice. It’ll actually cause people to slow down going past our shop.”



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