SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan today announced the northbound bridge on Interstate 55 over Lake Springfield will open on Friday evening, signaling the near completion of the $36.4 million Illinois FIRST project for the replacement of the Interstate 55 bridges over Lake Springfield.
While the entire project will not be completed until May 24, work on the northbound bridge has finished and it will be reopened so motorists will not have to use the crossovers that have been in place since work began in January 2001.
"The contractors are finishing about two months ahead of schedule and that will be a great bonus for the daily commuters who use this section of I-55 and for the many vacation travelers who will be using the highway this summer," Governor Ryan said. The contractors are Keeley & Sons, Inc. of East St. Louis and Keller Construction of Glen Carbon.
In addition to the replacement of the two Lake Springfield bridges, the project also involved resurfacing three miles of I-55, reconstruction of the Toronto Road overpass and widening Toronto Road from Second Street to the East Frontage Road for five lanes of traffic, and bridge deck repairs on the Southwind Road structure over I-55.
Remaining work will include the removal of the median crossovers, installation of guardrail in the median, and seeding of the median area where the crossovers were. Two lanes of traffic will be open during daytime work hours on both bridges while this work is under way. Motorists are still advised to slow down and drive with caution as the inside lanes on the bridges will be closed.
"The Illinois State Police are to be commended for keeping this a safe work zone during the past 17 months," Gov. Ryan said. "Over the course of the project, Troopers have consistently patrolled the area and have written more than 1,600 tickets.
"We also need to thank the driving public, especially those who used the highway during the work week, for slowing down and using caution as they passed through the area."
The new bridges are five spans and 722 feet long with three travel lanes in each direction and shoulders on both sides of the highway. The original bridge, which carried southbound traffic, was constructed in 1932. That bridge was reconstructed in 1968 on the original substructure of the 1932 bridge. The bridge that carried northbound traffic was constructed in 1967.