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IDOT and the bridge

Editor’s note: This is the first in a two-part series on road and bridge work planned for the Bureau County area during the next five years.

PERU — The engineers and the road experts were out Tuesday as part of the Illinois Department of Transportation’s public meeting on its upcoming Multi-Modal Transportation Improvement Program for Fiscal Years 2014-19.

One of the big topics of conversation at the meeting, which took place at the Peru City Hall, was the proposed Route 89 bridge over the Illinois River south of Spring Valley.

“It is fully funded,” said Thomas Magolan, IDOT programming engineer. “Now it is in the first phase of engineering.”

Magolan said all of the coordination, alignments, traffic control plans and preliminary designs takes place during the Phase I engineering phase, which is estimated to be completed next summer.

“It doesn’t happen overnight,” he said. “It takes some time.”

Before the phase is completed, Magolan said the district will meet with the public again to present its plans.

“We aren’t going to go out into the world and just do something without talking to people,” he said. “The feedback is always very important.”

Dave Broviak, IDOT studies and plans engineer, said since the last public hearing in April, they have had some preliminary environmental survey reports come back.

“We’ve identified wetlands, and we’ve identified some threatened and endangered species that we’ve got to consider,” he said. “We’ve also looked at the different alignments, and we’ve looked at where the existing structure is and where we could basically put the foundations for piers and align the new structure.”

The $22.5 million project will include removing and replacing the existing bridge, which was constructed in 1934. IDOT representatives have said the new bridge could be located to the west, to the east, or at the same site as the existing bridge.

Residents have expressed concerns at the option of the same site if it would mean closing the bridge during the construction phase. Concerns have included the economic and business impacts; impacts to school routes and other public services; access to the Spring Valley Boat Club; grain elevators and other businesses; financial and travel time concerns with a detour; increased traffic and crash potential on Illinois 89 or the Bottom Road; and diminished property value south of the river.

Broviak said they are putting together all of the information and waiting for the final environmental reports before holding the next public meeting early next year. At that time, Broviak said, they will present what they consider to be the best alternatives and gather more feedback.

“We certainly are considering all the comments we received from everyone from their concerns about closure of the structure,” he said. “Engineering is all about evaluating not only the physical features, but the social and economical ones, too.”

See Saturday’s BCR for what else IDOT has in store for Bureau County.

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