Dry summer has spurred construction, IDOT says
Homeowners trying to keep the air-conditioning from running all day would probably like a break from the heat. But as far as Kyle Videgar is concerned, the sun can keep right on shining.
Videgar is a construction engineer for the Illinois Department of Transportation working on the Route 178 bridge in Utica. Last year, Mother Nature lent Videgar and his team absolutely no help and bridge construction was repeatedly delayed by bad weather. They still were onsite in December.
This year has been different. The sun and clear skies have workers buzzing at the new span over the Illinois River and the bridge is mere months away from being opened to through-traffic.
“So far we’ve had a pretty favorable season, weather-wise,” Videgar said. “Temperatures have been hot and humid, but it’s been fairly dry, which has been good for construction.”
The one blemish on the 2020 season has been flooding on the Illinois River. Spring floods impeded barge access and “we’re slightly behind where we might have been.”
“But we’re still anticipating having traffic on the new structure in the next couple of months,” Videgar said. “I’m certain that work will be ongoing into the winter as well, between destruction of the old bridge and touch-up on the new.”
Utica’s mayor said he’s eager to see the project finished, but not because the project has been disruptive for him and his constituents.
“From a village standpoint, I believe the project has gone very smooth,” Mayor David Stewart said. “Traffic issues were held to a minimum, and the construction crews were very accommodating. We look forward to the finished project, and the lighted path from Starved Rock into the Village of Utica.
“I would also like to thank IDOT for putting this project together,” Stewart said. “They have been great to work with and have kept us up to speed on the project, as well.”
"I think the project has gone quite well given all the circumstances of the past 12-18 months," agreed Utica Village Trustee John Schweickert. "We have had some rough weather issues last year and this spring that pushed things back, but I think they’ve done a nice job staying the course when possible. The only traffic complaints are probably more state park capacity issues as opposed to issues due to the bridge."